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Hempstead supervisor directs ex-commissioner out of contract job 

Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen has ordered the preservation

Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen has ordered the preservation of all documents related to a 2017 contract that created post-retirement jobs for a former commissioner and two co-workers. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen has directed Gregory Becker, commissioner of the Department of Occupational Resources, to bar a former commissioner from continuing to serve as a contract worker in the department, according to a Monday memo provided by the Gillen administration.

Gillen further instructed Becker to preserve all records related to the 2017 contract that former Commissioner Ana-Maria Hurtado signed that created post-retirement jobs for her and two co-workers in department, citing "the investigation being conducted by the Nassau County District Attorney's Office," the memo from Gillen to Becker reads.

Newsday reported last weekend that Hurtado signed the contract in March 2017 with Alcott HR, a human resources outsourcing company with offices in Farmingdale, to provide extra staff to the department. Hurtado retired that July and became an Alcott employee days later working in her old department. Retired department officials Scott Surkis and Edward Kenny also work for the agency as Alcott contract workers.

Gillen last week called on Becker to resign and for the Nassau County district attorney to launch a criminal investigation into the contract. A district attorney spokeswoman last week said the office is reviewing the matter.

In her memo on Monday, Gillen instructed Becker to revoke Hurtado's town credentials and her access to the department's office, files and keys. 

"Under no circumstances is Ana Maria Hurtado to render any additional services to the Department," she wrote.

Gillen additionally forbade Becker from disposing of any documents related to Alcott, and instructed him "to comply fully with any subpoenas and to cooperate with the District Attorney's investigation or any other investigation."

Becker said Monday he asked the Gillen administration to reconsider the directive regarding Hurtado, as finding a replacement for her "will be very, very difficult."

"The loss of over 40 years of institutional knowledge, experience, and commitment to public service will negatively and detrimentally [affect] the services we provide," Becker said of Hurtado, who began working for the town in 1978.

Becker did not respond to a question about whether he would comply with Gillen's directive.

Hurtado, Kenny and Surkis did not respond to requests for comment.

Gillen spokesman Mike Fricchione said Becker had acknowledged the request but did not specifically state that he would comply. Fricchione added that Becker "is obligated to comply with any directives given by the town supervisor under state public officers law."

Fricchione said the supervisor's office has been in contact with the district attorney's office but declined to comment further.

Prior to Gillen's call for an investigation by the district attorney, Hempstead Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney had called for the town's compliance officer and ethics counsel to conduct its own investigation into the contract. Richard Regina, counsel to the town board, said Monday the town would not investigate until the district attorney's office completed its review.

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