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Nassau DA should investigate Oyster Bay contracts, group says

Dean Hart, who founded Long Island Citizens for

Dean Hart, who founded Long Island Citizens for Good Government, on Friday, April 8, 2016, calls for Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas to investigate Town of Oyster Bay contracts and employment practices. Credit: Johnny Milano

A government watchdog group on Friday called on the Nassau County district attorney’s office to investigate Town of Oyster Bay contracts and employment practices.

Dean Hart, who founded Long Island Citizens for Good Government after he ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat for the Nassau County legislature in November, said there are indications of corruption throughout town government.

“We’re calling on our district attorney to save our town,” he said at a news conference near the Town Hall.

Shams Tarek, spokesman for District Attorney Madeline Singas, said the office has multiple investigations of contracts throughout the county.

“If any citizen or citizen group has information that can be helpful to a criminal investigation, as always we welcome them to contact us directly,” Tarek said.

Singas’ office and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission already are investigating $20 million in loan guarantees Oyster Bay made with indicted restaurateur and town concessionaire Harendra Singh. The town disputes the guarantees are valid. No town employees have been publicly charged in the federal investigation into Singh and the town.

Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto, a Republican, said Hart’s call for a new investigation “is clearly politically motivated.” Town Attorney Leonard Genova said it is “troubling” to allege improprieties without offering specifics.

“If they have it, come forward,” Genova said.

Hart and Robert Freier, who ran for town board as a Democrat in November, said there is a potential for improprieties in a system in which contract extensions are approved by appointed commissioners rather than elected board members. Hart pointed to $3 million in contract extensions awarded to Carlo Lizza & Sons Paving, Inc. since July. The company has made $42,000 in political contributions in the past 10 years, about half to town and county Republican committees, along with $4,700 to Venditto, according to state elections board records.

Councilwoman Rebecca Alesia said even though some contracts give commissioners the authority to extend contracts, the board must approve the expenditure of money.

Venditto said the company’s contributions to his campaign were “not, relatively speaking, overwhelming.”

Hart also accused the town of employing “no-show” workers. When pressed, he could not name a specific no-show employee, but he said the practice of putting relatives of board members on the town payroll raises suspicions.

Venditto said even though the town employs relatives of town board members, they are qualified and fulfill their job responsibilities.

“There is no such thing as a no-show job in the Town of Oyster Bay,” he said.

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