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Oyster Bay Dems seek explanation for town supervisor's use of Sandy funds

From left: Councilman Joseph Muscarella, Supervisor Joseph Saladino,

From left: Councilman Joseph Muscarella, Supervisor Joseph Saladino, and Councilman Anthony Macagnone, listen to resolutions read by the town clerk during a Town of Oyster Bay meeting, Tuesday evening, June 26, 2018. Credit: Danielle Silverman

Oyster Bay Democrats on Thursday called for Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino, a Republican, to explain his use of disaster relief funds after he was sued by a state agency for allegedly accepting a grant for which he was ineligible.

"Serious concerns have been raised regarding the potential misappropriation of Hurricane Sandy relief funds,” Sen. John Brooks (D-Seaford) said in a statement. "Oyster Bay Supervisor Saladino has a responsibility to address these concerns and explain exactly what happened.”

The Housing Trust Fund Corp., a New York State agency that oversees recovery funds, alleged in a September lawsuit that Saladino failed to disclose a homeowner's insurance settlement for damage from Sandy, making him ineligible for a $15,803 New York Rising Housing Recovery Program grant he received in 2015.

Saladino said Tuesday he had repaid the money, but has not provided documentation.

“I am waiting on the agency to file the appropriate paperwork which ends this matter," he said in an emailed statement Thursday.

 Emily Thompson, acting general counsel and chief external affairs officer for the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery, said in a statement Thursday, “We cannot comment on active litigation." 

Brooks said the lawsuit against Saladino strengthens the case to impose a fiscal monitor on the town. Brooks has said he would reintroduce the proposed legislation to do that in January, when Democrats take control of the State Senate.

Saladino said he is still struggling to recover after Sandy destroyed his Massapequa home.

“My political opponents should know better than to play politics with victims who are rebuilding their lives from the devastation of Superstorm Sandy,” Saladino said in a separate statement Thursday.

“I — like many families on Long Island — faced a burdensome process of filling out paperwork, fighting with the insurance companies and being aggravated with government assistance programs to simply obtain the benefits I had an equal right to — just like every other resident,” he said in the statement.

Robert Freier, spokesman for the Oyster Bay Democrats, said Saladino should resign.

"He should step down,” Freier said Thursday. “He’s proven that he puts himself before the taxpayers."

Assemb. Christine Pellegrino (D-West Islip) also called for Saladino's resignation, saying in a news release that the supervisor had “gamed the system.”

“The information brought to light by this lawsuit reaffirms that corruption in the Town of Oyster Bay goes all the way to the top,” Pellegrino said. “It is time for Mr. Saladino to resign as Town Supervisor.”

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