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Long IslandNassau

Maragos strikes back at Weitzman allegations

The political war for Nassau County comptroller heated up Tuesday as a county attorney for incumbent Republican George Maragos warned Democratic opponent Howard Weitzman against "continuing to make false statements" about the county's finances.

Weitzman announced last week that he had asked the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission to investigate what he called "false and misleading" financial reporting by Maragos.

But Andrew Grumet, a Manhattan securities lawyer hired by the county attorney's office to review Weitzman's allegations, wrote Weitzman saying he had committed "libel and slander" against Maragos, and created "the potential to seriously affect the county's ability to obtain financing in the near future."

Maragos called the allegations by Weitzman, whom he defeated in 2009, "false, irresponsible and potentially harmful to the county and all taxpayers."

Weitzman on Sept. 16 said he had asked the SEC to investigate whether Maragos and other top Republicans in county government postponed $88 million in judgments for property tax settlements in 2012 so that Nassau would have a budget surplus.

Maragos said his 2012 financial report was cleared by the county's independent auditor, Deloitte & Touche.

Grumet demanded that Weitzman retract his SEC complaint and issue a formal public retraction of his allegations.

Nick Benson, Weitzman's campaign spokesman, said: "It is outrageous to waste taxpayer dollars to threaten and intimidate political opposition. The problem isn't that Howard Weitzman blew the whistle on George Maragos' shady financial practices. The problem is George Maragos' shady financial practices."

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