East Rockaway attorney John M. Mannone, newly elected to the Oceanside Sanitation Board No. 7, said he wants to recoup $800,000 in retirement payments to a set of father and son former board members.
Mannone, 49, of Oceanside, defeated Oceanside Fire Commissioner Craig DeBaun to fill the seat of retiring Commissioner Christopher Powers. He was sworn in Thursday night after the vote.
The sanitation district serves 13,000 homes and 950 businesses for garbage pickup in Oceanside. Last year, the special taxing district collected $8.8 million from residents to serve as its operating budget.
Mannone said his first act as commissioner will be to vote to terminate longtime paid consultant and former sanitation board Commissioner Mike Scarlata and attempt to recover his deferred payments.
"I'm going to start on Monday to negotiate Mr. Scarlata's terms of surrender," Mannone said. "A lot of people are angry. Regardless of the clawbacks, his reign of terror is over."
Neither Scarlata nor his son, Charles, responded to requests for comment. Mike Scarlata is paid as a consultant for the board under a 5-year contract, which pays $62,000 annually plus health benefits.
Mike Scarlata, 81, received $391,000 in deferred payments from 1998 to 2013, after retiring in 1998 with a $75,000 annual pension. Charles Scarlata, 57, received $421,353 in payments in 2012 and 2013 when he retired as sanitation district supervisor.
A state comptroller's audit late last year said the sanitation district erred in authorizing contracts for the Scarlatas and should try to collect the unauthorized payments they received from taxpayer funds.
Mannone said he ran for office to change the culture of corruption and intimidation Mike Scarlata brought to the department.
He said his board seat, combined with Commissioners Thomas Lanning and Ed Scharfberg, shifts the majority on the board to oust Scarlata. Mannone plans to seek legal advice on terminating the contract and collecting the retirement payments.
"It's a balance of costs and finding the most efficient cost to taxpayers. We don't want to get involved in years of litigation," Mannone said. "We have to find out how much we're entitled to recoup."
Board members were waiting until after the election to explore remediation proceedings, the board's counsel, Jack Libert, said.
Officials certified the election Thursday night with no challenge by DeBaun or supporters.
District officials took measures to avoid last year's voting controversy, which led to a recount in Nassau County Supreme Court, where Lanning was declared winner. Mannone served as his attorney during the recount.