Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto took a wait-and-see attitude on his indicted public works commissioner after criticism during the public comments portion of Tuesday's board meeting.
Town planning and development Commissioner Frederick Ippolito was indicted on six counts of tax evasion on Friday after he allegedly failed to report on his income tax returns $2 million in consulting fees from Carlo Lizza & Sons Paving of Old Bethpage and an unidentified member of the Lizza family. Ippolito pleaded not guilty and returned to work on Monday.
"As the supervisor, sir, you have the responsibility . . . to oversee the integrity of your administration, to protect the dignity of the office for which Mr. Ippolito was appointed," Michael Siff, 51, an attorney from Woodbury, said during the meeting. "It's incomprehensible, as a former prosecutor, that such a commissioner would be allowed to go back to work on the very next working day."
Siff, who said he is considering running for office as a Democrat against the all-Republican board, demanded that Venditto either fire or suspend Ippolito for possible ethics violations.
"We're obviously very early in the process," Venditto replied. "There's a lot to absorb. A lot to consider. . . . You need not be concerned that we're not giving this our full attention."
During the public comment period, Massapequa resident Robert Ripp asked Councilwoman Michele Johnson about her involvement in the case.
Ippolito is being represented by Anthony Capetola, a former member of the town's zoning board of appeals and Johnson's father. Johnson works in her father's practice, which lists her as Michele Capetola on its website.
"I was not privy to any of that conversation, and I do not know where they stand," Johnson said.
After the meeting, Venditto asked special counsel Tom Sabellico to review the town code as to whether there were any ethical issues with Johnson working for the law firm representing Ippolito.
Other town officials have outside connections to Ippolito. Town attorneys Frank Scalera and Matthew Rozea represented Ippolito in a New York State tax case. The state Department of Taxation and Finance is holding Ippolito liable for $338,894, for the shuttered Syosset restaurant Christiano's. The liability is listed in his deceased wife's name, but the state appellate court last year upheld a ruling that Ippolito was responsible.
Town Attorney Leonard Genova said their involvement was addressed in a report prepared by Sabellico that was given to the Nassau County district attorney's office that has not been made public. Sabellico said he had no evidence they did any of the work on town time."The matter was not town related," Sabellico said. "It was his own personal thing, I don't think there's any problem with the attorneys representing town employees as long as it wasn't a town matter."