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Oyster Bay deputy supervisor 'may have violated' town's ethics code in soliciting contributions, Nassau DA finds

Nassau County acting District Attorney Joyce Smith in

Nassau County acting District Attorney Joyce Smith in Hempstead on Sept. 9. The Nassau District Attorney's office has found that Oyster Bay Deputy Town Supervisor Gregory Carman Jr. "may have violated" the town ethics code. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Oyster Bay Deputy Town Supervisor Gregory Carman Jr. may have violated ethics code by soliciting political contributions from subordinate town employees, the Nassau County District Attorney's office said in a letter to the town ethics board.

The district attorney's office launched an investigation in December, as previously reported in Newsday, in response to allegations that Carman had misused his office to induce town employees to give money to the Farmingdale Republican Committee, of which he is executive leader.

"The Public Corruption Bureau investigated these allegations and confirmed that Mr. Carman did send letters to certain Town employees for political contributions and that those employees' salary information was used in determining the size of the contribution request," the letter stated. "However, the investigation did not find sufficient evidence proving Mr. Carman committed a criminal offense and this case is being closed at this time without a criminal prosecution."

New York State campaign finance law bars government officials from using their authority or official influence to compel the payment of "political assessments," but the statute does not define political assessments nor does it prohibit voluntary contributions.

The letter, dated Sept. 22, advised the town ethics board that Carman's actions "may have violated" the town ethics code section that prohibits town officials and employees from using their position to compel or induce subordinates to make political contributions of money or services.

The letter said the town's ethics handbook, "expressly forbids the practice that Mr. Carman engaged in," namely, asking subordinates to make a political contribution or to engage in political activities.

Following Newsday's publication of the district attorney's findings online Friday, Carman said in an email statement the allegations had been "nothing but a pure political attack by democrat [sic] politicians."

"I thank the District Attorney for being non-partisan in her review and I look forward to a full exoneration from the independent ethics board as well," Carman wrote.

Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino in response to questions about the letter Friday said, "It sounds like he's been entirely exonerated from any criminal wrongdoing."

Oyster Bay Town Ethics Board chairman Alfred Constants III said Friday he had not seen the district attorney's letter.

"We have not looked at it," Constants said. "If something comes, we review it at our next meeting."

The town ethics board can impose fines of up to $10,000 for ethics code violations.

The next ethics board meeting is scheduled for Dec. 8. The five-member ethics board has two vacancies, a town spokeswoman said in an email.

At a Dec. 21 news conference, Democrats including County Executive Laura Curran and several state legislators alleged that Carman had improperly solicited contributions from town employees who had received raises. Democrats alleged that letters from Carman asked for contributions of $250, $500 or $750 based on their salaries.

On Friday, Amanda Field, the Democratic candidate for Oyster Bay Town Supervisor, called for Carman to resign as deputy town supervisor, the Nassau County Assessment Review Commission and as counsel to the Oyster Bay Housing Authority.

"It's clear from the District Attorney's statement that Carman has not only acted extremely unethically, but it's clear that his conduct has violated the town of Oyster Bay code of ethics," Field said.

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