A judge acquitted Larry Slatky of corruption charges Thursday, delivering a verdict that the former Nassau public health system executive said brought tears to his eyes.
The Cold Spring Harbor resident, 65, had faced two misdemeanor charges of official misconduct following a 2014 indictment.
Nassau prosecutors had alleged Slatky abused his power while chief operating officer of NuHealth -- which is also known as Nassau Health Care Corp. -- to make sure a friend's business landed a laundry contract in 2010.
At trial, the government claimed Slatky negotiated a new lowest bid for a laundry contract with a friend whose company hadn't been the lowest bidder after a sealed bid process, violating procurement policy. They alleged Slatky then directed subordinates to award the bid to his friend's company -- FDR Services Corp. of Hempstead.
The five-year contract, worth about $100,000 a year, involved laundry services for patients at the publicly run A. Holly Patterson Extended Care Facility in Uniondale.
"I feel great. I feel vindicated. I always knew I didn't do anything that was outside of the rules ... I'm almost like speechless now ... My family has been through a lot," Slatky said following the verdict, complimenting his defense team and adding: "The judge saw through everything and I can't thank him enough as well for the not guilty verdict."
Prosecutors have said Slatky had faced up to one year in jail on each count if convicted.
Brian Griffin, one of Slatky's attorneys, said his client did nothing wrong and actually saved the county and Nassau University Medical Center millions of dollars through his efforts. The hospital is among the county health facilities of NuHealth, a $545 million public benefit corporation. He left his position before his arrest.
Attorney John Martin, who also represented Slatky, said the defense was "tremendously gratified" by Nassau Supervising Judge Christopher Quinn's verdict in the nonjury trial.
The defense had maintained that Slatky made a good-faith mistake that wasn't a criminal act, that he wasn't the person who awarded the contract and that the deal also saved taxpayers money.
Prosecutors declined to comment on the verdict.
It followed the judge's ruling Wednesday that prosecutors failed to fulfill an ethical obligation by not turning over a document to the defense before the trial began.
The anonymous letter had alleged corruption on the part of some of the prosecution's witnesses against Slatky, who now works as executive director of Albany County Nursing Home.
Quinn had also found prosecutors didn't violate a rule of criminal law that requires them to turn over evidence that's favorable to the defense.
But the judge said he would draw an "adverse inference" regarding certain testimony, meaning he might consider allegations in the letter while evaluating the credibility of witnesses named in the document.
A spokeswoman for NuHealth declined to comment on the verdict Thursday.