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Maragos exceeded authority in animal shelter audit, judge rules

Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos held a news

Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos held a news conference on Monday, Feb. 6, 2017, to announce that he would investigate claims of animal neglect at the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter. Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

A Nassau County Supreme Court judge has ruled that County Comptroller George Maragos exceeded his authority in seeking to conduct a “performance audit” of the Hempstead Town Animal Shelter, court documents show.

On Friday, Judge Roy Mahon granted the town’s motion to quash parts of Maragos’ subpoenas that sought information beyond the shelter’s budget and finances.

Maragos said Wednesday that he has asked the county attorney to appeal Mahon’s decision. He will delay auditing the shelter’s finances — a “relatively small portion” of the overall investigation — while he appeals.

“I am very disappointed by the court’s decision to limit our audit to only financial issues,” Maragos said in a statement.”

Mahon last month issued a temporary injunction prohibiting Maragos from continuing his audit of the shelter after the town objected, saying he was not authorized to investigate the shelter beyond its finances.

Maragos, who is running in the Democratic primary for Nassau county executive, started his audit in February following allegations of animal mistreatment and inadequate care.

The comptroller planned to conduct “performance audits” and sought information, through testimony and documents, about animal records and employees’ qualifications. He also said he would have his auditors inspect the shelter.

“The county comptroller’s attempt to overstep his authority was blatantly political and went far beyond the scope of the fiscal reviews traditionally performed in legitimate audits,” Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony Santino said in a statement.

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