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Oyster Bay agrees to cooperate with investigation to borrow funds

Harendra Singh walks out of federal court in

Harendra Singh walks out of federal court in Central Islip with his attorneys, Brendan Ahern, left, and Anthony LaPinta, after being released on bail on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2016. Credit: James Carbone

The Town of Oyster Bay agreed to cooperate with investigators looking into past concessions agreements as a condition for borrowing nearly $50 million for operating and capital expenses this week.

The agreement was requested by the underwriter, Oppenheimer & Co., according to the town’s borrowing prospectus for short-term notes, which are expected to begin being sold to investors Tuesday.

The town plans to borrow $15 million in revenue anticipation notes for operating expenses and $34.5 million in bond anticipation notes for capital projects.

The agreement requires “the town, its officers, officials, employees, and agents to continue to cooperate with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and any and all federal, state and local agencies and authorities, on matters whether civil or criminal in nature, regarding these allegations.”

Former Town Supervisor John Venditto was charged last year in federal court with soliciting and accepting bribes from the town’s former concessionaire, Harendra Singh, who was also charged. Both men have pleaded not guilty.

Oyster Bay Deputy Supervisor Gregory Carman said the agreement had more to do with appearance than concern about the investigations into the town’s former concessions agreement with Singh’s companies.

“It’s a moot point because we are cooperating,” Carman said.

The agreement is only binding until the notes have been sold to investors and the deal closes, which is expected to happen by the end of June.

Revenue anticipation notes are used for short-term cash flow borrowing when a municipality or district wants to spend money it expects to receive before the funds have come in. A prospectus for the notes indicates the town expects to receive funds from Nassau County for sales taxes and mortgage recording taxes. The county has partially withheld some of those funds in recent years owing to a dispute over community college tuition funding, according to the prospectus.

The town has borrowed for cash flow purposes every year since 2011 in amounts ranging from $10 million to $32 million.

Town documents show its long-term debt has decreased over the past year to $740.1 million, including water district debt that is paid by fees the districts collect but is still a debt of the town, from $828.6 million on June 15, 2016.

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