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Oyster Bay supervisor John Venditto presides over meeting, with no news of future

Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto during

Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto during the town meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016 in Oyster Bay. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto presided over a town board meeting Tuesday, two weeks after saying an announcement about his plans for the future would be forthcoming.

Town Spokeswoman Marta Kane said after the meeting that Venditto, who is under federal indictment, was not available for interviews and had “no update” about his “very complex” situation.

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.

At the board meeting, Venditto said his legal fees were “a personal expense” in response to a question about who was paying them from Robert Freier, 53, a professional recruiter from Woodbury. Venditto is being represented by attorney Brian Griffin of Garden City-based Foley Griffin, LLP.

Since last year the town board has spent or approved more than $1.6 million in legal fees for other law firms on matters related to the Singh concessions, records show.

Town officials acknowledged Tuesday that taxpayers are financially liable for deposits made by customers who booked events at the town-owned Woodlands catering hall.

In September the town board terminated its concessions agreement with Singh’s former company to operate the facility at the town golf course in Woodbury and awarded an emergency agreement to Lessing’s Hospitality of Great River, which was required to honor previously scheduled events.

A document obtained by Freier showed more than $182,000 in deposits had been collected for events scheduled from September through December at the Woodlands.

Parks Commissioner Frank Nocerino confirmed that Freier was correct about the deposits.

“After Lessing took over they investigated, called all the people up and talked to them and a bunch of them had canceled,” Nocerino said at the meeting. “It’s approximately $50,000 that the town is responsible for.”

After the meeting, Nocerino said that those who canceled their events had forfeited their deposits. And Town Attorney Leonard Genova said the $50,000 could be given to Lessing as a credit.

Town officials said Tuesday that Lessing’s emergency agreement could be extended past Dec. 31 as the town prepares a new request for proposals.

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