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Couple says Mangano, late deputy approved use of disputed Red Cote Preserve property

An image of the renovated property in Nassau

An image of the renovated property in Nassau County's Red Cote Preserve in Oyster Bay Cove.  Credit: Exhibit, New York State Supreme Court in Mineola

An Oyster Bay Cove couple alleges in a new court filing that a late Nassau County official agreed to give them a license to use county property that is at the center of a legal dispute.

Nassau County sued Neil and Gina Weinberg in 2017 over renovations and use of a garage and shed on the county-owned Red Cote Preserve adjacent to their home.

The Weinbergs' attorney, Randy Scott Zelin of Manhattan, claimed in the filing last week that new evidence bolstered their defense that they had acted in accordance with an agreement with Nassau County. The county’s outside legal counsel called the new claims a delaying tactic based on “double-hearsay.”

The county is seeking a permanent injunction to keep the Weinbergs off the county property as well as more than $14,000 in damages. The Weinbergs have said they believed a license to use the property issued to a previous owner was transferrable to them.

Zelin’s new evidence is an affidavit from former County Attorney John Ciampoli recalling conversations with late Nassau Deputy County Executive Charles Theofan and an affidavit from an official at the company that sold the Weinbergs their home in 2013.

“These affidavits show that the Weinbergs had permission from plaintiff to use and occupy the garage and shed,” Zelin wrote in his court filing.

The affidavit of Ciampoli, a Republican election lawyer who served as county attorney in 2013, states that he recalled “Mr. Theofan passed away after having granted the Weinbergs permission to start making repairs and alterations to the Garage and Shed, which was a condition of and consideration for the Weinberg License for the Garage and Shed being issued to them.” Ciampoli also said in his affidavit that he believed Theofan hadn’t issued a license to the Weinbergs before his death in 2014.

Ciampoli said in his affidavit that he recalled then-County Executive Edward Mangano approving of Theofan’s proposal to allow the Weinbergs to use the shed and garage in return for maintaining them.

Oscar Michelen, an attorney with Cuomo LLC representing Nassau County, said in a court filing that the Weinbergs' new claims consisted of “double hearsay” of an oral agreement allegedly made by a deceased county official “with no authority to legally bind the county and which were never reduced into a writing that was approved by the County Executive or the County Legislature.”

Michelen wrote that “No records of any kind relating to this Theofan/Weinberg exchange have ever been located.”

Zelin said Monday that they want the judge "to give everybody their day in court at a full-blown trial, and not a trial on papers."

County officials did not respond Monday to requests for comment.

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