The judge presiding in Nassau County Court in a wide-ranging corruption case involving several people with ties to the Town of Oyster Bay set a trial date Tuesday for two of the defendants, their attorneys said.
State Supreme Court Justice Charles Wood held a conference in the case in Mineola. But the judge — usually based in Westchester and assigned because of potential conflicts of interest — didn’t go on the record in the courtroom after meeting with attorneys in chambers.
Craig Rosasco, the attorney for Salvatore Cecere, confirmed Wood set a Sept. 12 trial date for his client and Frank Antetomaso, Cecere’s uncle and a former Oyster Bay public works commissioner.
The judge had waived the appearances of all defendants in the overall case, which involve three indictments and include charges of conspiracy, official misconduct and defrauding the government against former Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto — whom a federal jury last month acquitted of separate corruption charges.
Manhattan attorney Joshua Kirshner said after Tuesday’s conference that the defense team for Venditto, 68, of North Massapequa, expects to file a motion shortly asking the judge to dismiss charges in two state indictments against Venditto. He said the motion will cite “insufficiency of the evidence that was presented to the grand jury.”
Cecere, 51, of West Sayville, was the only defendant who came to court Tuesday. “Just happy the case is moving forward,” Rosasco said, adding of his client: “He’s here supporting his innocent position on the claim.”
In one indictment, Cecere and Antetomaso, 78, of Massapequa, each face two misdemeanor charges: official misconduct and theft of services.
The Nassau district attorney’s office has alleged Antetomaso, then the principal of an engineering firm with Oyster Bay contracts, called his nephew, then a town highway maintenance supervisor, and asked if the town would repair a friend’s sidewalk after a dead tree damaged it.
A wiretap captured the conversation, according to prosecutors. They’ve alleged Cecere said on the call that a town program — which subsidized homeowners’ costs for sidewalk repairs — had ended, but he said he would take care of the repair as a favor.
Prosecutors claim Antetomaso gave Cecere the North Massapequa address and Cecere had town employees remove the dead tree and replace the sidewalk in front of the Greenwood Drive home. The homeowner never got a bill, prosecutors said.
Court records show Cecere allegedly later told authorities, after being served with a notice that a phone call he was part of had been intercepted, that “there was no special circumstance to justify the town performing this work.”
The records say Cecere also allegedly told authorities he used town employees and equipment to have the work done, didn’t do any paperwork and the homeowner wasn’t billed.
Antetomaso’s attorney, Nancy Bartling, declined to comment on those records Tuesday, but said her client is ready for a September trial.
“We are absolutely going to try the case, because it’s a ridiculous case. It’s a trumped-up charge, just like what just happened in Central Islip,” the Mineola attorney added, referencing Venditto’s federal acquittal.
A spokesman for District Attorney Madeline Singas said after Tuesday’s conference that “the cases are progressing” and prosecutors were due back in court in September.