Nassau Coliseum

Nassau Coliseum Credit: Chris Ware

Nassau County has reimbursed the federally funded Community Development Block Grant program for $14,900 paid in salary to housing employee Ray Thomas for his work on the failed Aug. 1 Coliseum referendum.

A spokesman for the regional office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said the county repaid the money after the agency inquired about Thomas' activities. A director in the county's housing department, Thomas' $89,310-a-year salary is charged to federal funds.

"HUD has obtained and reviewed documentation from Nassau County showing that federal funds [disbursed] for Mr. Thomas' salary and related costs during the time he worked on the Nassau County Coliseum referendum campaign have been reversed using nonfederal funds from the county's general fund," spokesman Alan Gelfand said last week. "We believe this is sufficient to address concerns about the source of funding for Mr. Thomas' work on the referendum."

County Executive Edward Mangano and Thomas declined to comment.

"It's a no-brainer that you can't use federal funds for political purposes," said Legis. David Denenberg (D-Merrick). "Influencing a vote in any respect is political."

The HUD action came after Newsday reported in July that Thomas helped supervise a team of unpaid interns to inform residents about Mangano's plan to borrow as much as $450 million to rebuild the aging Coliseum. Voters rejected the proposal in a $1 million special election Aug. 1.

The Nassau comptroller's office confirmed an entry was posted in the county's financial system on Nov. 29 crediting the Community Development Block Grant fund from the general fund for the amount paid to Thomas from June 27 to Aug. 1.

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