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Oyster Bay’s Venditto will decide in days whether to step down

Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto attends a

Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto attends a town board meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016. It was his first public appearance since his arrest last month on federal corruption charges. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto said Tuesday he would make an announcement within days about whether he will resign following last month’s federal corruption charges.

“Working to clear your name is a full-time job,” Venditto said as he left Tuesday’s board meeting. “When something as catastrophic comes as an arrest and indictment, it becomes a distraction.”

Federal prosecutors last month charged Venditto with conspiracy to commit bribery, fraud and obstruction of justice connected to millions of dollars of loan guarantees extended by the town on behalf of indicted former town concessionaire Harendra Singh. Venditto has pleaded not guilty.

Venditto declined to answer questions about the charges that included accepting limo rides, free office space and discounted events at Singh’s venues, but said he will fight them.

“I entered my not-guilty plea and I stand by my not-guilty plea,” Venditto said. “When you know in your heart that you didn’t do the things you were accused of, it makes it a little easier to handle.”

Venditto’s comments Tuesday at the town board meeting and to reporters were his first public statements since his arrest.

Venditto said the timing of his pending announcement was not related to his son Michael Venditto’s bid for re-election to the State Senate. That race with opponent John Brooks, a Republican running on the Democratic line, for the Senate seat will likely be decided by absentee ballots. Brooks was ahead by 33 votes on election night.

Earlier in the day the town board appointed Councilman Joseph Muscarella to be deputy supervisor. The town hasn’t had a deputy supervisor since 2010 when its last one, Leonard Genova, became town attorney. Newsday reported that Genova used the title of deputy supervisor until Venditto’s arrest.

Muscarella is the senior most member of the town board, having joined it in 1995. In a break from his regular practice, Venditto left before the public comment period began and Muscarella took over the remainder of the meeting.

Last month Councilman Anthony Macagnone had called for an emergency session to appoint a deputy but he did not receive support from other board members.

The board also on Tuesday appointed Timothy Zike to serve as interim commissioner of planning and development. Zike has long served as deputy commissioner of the department. The commissioner position has been vacant since former Commissioner Frederick Ippolito pleaded guilty in February to federal income tax evasion related to consulting fees.


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