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Hempstead comptroller who extended Malibu Beach contract to retire

Hempstead Town officials have criticized the extension of

Hempstead Town officials have criticized the extension of the Malibu Beach Park contract. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

Hempstead Town Comptroller Kevin Conroy, who has faced criticism for his role in extending a town contract that has drawn the scrutiny of federal law enforcement, said he will retire because of health reasons Aug. 26.

Conroy's retirement comes amid a controversy over a five-year extension of a contract for a Freeport company to operate the town-owned Malibu Beach Park in Lido Beach. Conroy and Parks Commissioner Daniel Lino signed the extension in April without town board approval or the knowledge of Supervisor Laura Gillen, who has called it a "sweetheart deal" for the contractor, Dover Gourmet Corp., and its chief executive, Butch Yamali.

Conroy, who was first hired by the town in 1996, filed for retirement July 24, said Tania Lopez, a spokeswoman for the New York State Comptroller. One week prior, Gillen excoriated the extension in a news conference following a Newsday report on the deal.

Conroy, 62, said Tuesday he was not retiring because of the Malibu controversy. The outgoing comptroller said he was not involved in negotiating the monetary aspects of the extension, and did not review the extension before signing it.

Conroy, who is departing as his office prepares Hempstead's 2020 budget, said "the transition will be smooth."

"I have every bit of confidence that in my absence they will carry the torch," he said of his staff.

Gillen said Tuesday: "I hope his health improves. And I hope now Dan Lino will follow suit. It's time for Dan Lino to resign or retire."

Lino did not respond to a request for comment.

Gillen also said she "found the allegations about the comptroller with respect to the Dover contract deeply disturbing."

Newsday has also reported on records showing that Dover has not paid Hempstead rent on the beachside recreation facility for nearly a year, accumulating a balance of $531,400. Dover had already gone seven months without paying rent when Lino and Conroy extended the contract. Yamali has said the town owes him more than $2 million for capital improvements and that Lino, Conroy, and Town Attorney Joe Ra had instructed him not to pay the rent.

Conroy on Tuesday disputed Yamali's account, as Ra has previously.

"I have no authority whatsoever to communicate to Butch Yamali that he can stay his rent payment," he said.

The U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York this month served Hempstead with a subpoena for records related to Dover.

Last week, Dover filed for declaratory judgment against the town, asking a Nassau court to declare the contract "lawfully and validly extended" and that Dover is entitled to a credit from the town for expenses "exceeding its contractually mandated capital improvement obligation."

Conroy, whom the town paid $166,500 in 2018, said he was appointed comptroller in 2010. He previously served as a community research assistant and fiscal manager in other town departments.

Conroy said he left town employment from 1998 to 2005 to work as the comptroller of the Nassau Off Track Betting Corp. Around 2012, Conroy said, OTB president Joseph Cairo, who also now is chairman of the Nassau Republican Committee, hired him as an OTB financial consultant, a role that Conroy has filled on an "on-call basis" since then. Conroy said he "will consider" staying in that position, although he has not worked for the OTB so far in 2019.

Gillen said she is meeting with possible replacements for Conroy. She said she will likely appoint an acting comptroller after Conroy retires and then the town board may appoint a replacement at its Sept. 3 meeting.