Oyster Bay Councilman Anthony Macagnone has called for a review of all code enforcement actions and lawsuits involving the town’s Department of Planning and Development.
Macagnone said he wants to avoid the kinds of prosecutions for code violations and countersuits that were routinely brought under former Commissioner of Planning and Development Frederick Ippolito, who oversaw the code compliance bureau.
“The end is to avoid it from happening, from getting that far,” Macagnone said. “If we could find out why it got that far, maybe we can prevent it from happening in the future.”
While court cases may be unavoidable to resolve some disputes, he said, they generally should be avoided.
“These people are our residents, they are our customers, they’re our employers, they do not need this,” Macagnone said.
Ippolito pleaded guilty to federal income tax evasion charges in January for not reporting income received from town contractor Carlo Lizza & Sons Paving Inc. and a Lizza family member. He awaits sentencing.
Although Ippolito no longer works for the town, he is still named as a defendant in several ongoing lawsuits brought against Oyster Bay in state and federal court.
“Obviously something went wrong,” Macagnone said. “I just want to correct it.”
Macagnone said his call for a review was prompted after Newsday asked him about the case of Nancy and Russell Castrogiovanni, an Oyster Bay couple who have alleged in court papers that town officials targeted them for retaliation. Macagnone said he couldn’t discuss the case because it is still in litigation.
In court papers, Nancy Castrogiovanni alleged that after she complained to the Oyster Bay Sewer District about repeated sewage backups flooding her basement, the town sent in code enforcement officers who issued summonses in what was the beginning of five years of litigation with the town.
Nancy Castrogiovanni alleged in court papers that the town destroyed documents that would help her case, filed capricious and arbitrary charges against her, and left the couple in legal limbo by not acting on permit applications.
Nancy Castrogiovanni also sued the town to obtain documents that had been withheld in Freedom of Information Law requests and to obtain permits for solar panels.
In 2015, the town charged Russell Castrogiovanni for the first time with violations and misdemeanors for alleged code violations related to the couple’s house. The Castrogiovannis alleged in the court papers that the town charged him because he served Ippolito with a subpoena in 2014.
“It was not until Russell Castrogiovanni was involved with the subpoena for Building Commissioner Ippolito that suddenly a summons was issued to Russell; this sent a clear message of retaliation,” the Castrogiovannis said in court filings.
The Castrogiovannis did not return calls requesting comment.
Oyster Bay Deputy Town Attorney Frank Scalera said Thursday that the parties had met last week and had reached an amicable agreement to resolve the alleged code violations when the couple is due in court next week.