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Suspended part-timer reinstated in Nassau

Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos on June 12,

Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos on June 12, 2013. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

The same day the Nassau comptroller disclosed irregularities in the time records of a politically active county employee, County Executive Edward Mangano's administration lifted a 20-day suspension of the part-time golf course attendant, who earned $66,479 from Nassau last year.

Zahid Syed, who also is a $126,000 full-time employee for the Town of Hempstead, was told he could return to his county parks job on Oct. 12 -- 20 calendar days after the county had suspended him without pay, according to CSEA President Jerry Laricchiuta, whose union represents part-timers.

Syed, 49, could not be reached for comment Thursday. He co-founded the local chapter of the South Asian-American Political Action Committee and has given thousands of dollars to local Republicans. Mangano in 2010 appointed Syed as the unpaid chairman of Nassau's human rights commission.

County Comptroller George Maragos, who turned Syed's case over to District Attorney Kathleen Rice, said the "reinstatement of a nonessential part-time employee who is under investigation for possible irregularities in their time sheets should not have been allowed prior to the completion of a full review" by the district attorney.

A Rice spokesman said Thursday an inquiry "is ongoing."

Deputy County Executive Ed Ward said Nassau could suspend Syed for only 20 days without triggering a union hearing, which he said could have interfered with Rice. Nassau has restricted Syed's hours and is allowing him to only work weekends, Ward said.

Meanwhile, Syed's hourly rate has been bumped up to $51.36 from $50, reflecting a recent CSEA raise.

Maragos reported Oct. 9 that irregularities on Syed's time sheets included claims that he spent 452 hours last year representing Mangano at community events far from any golf course. For instance, Syed told the comptroller that on March 17, he spent nine hours representing Mangano at the Pakistani American Christian Association and Asian Indian Human Rights Association Dinner.

Maragos also noted 159 instances in Syed's time records between Jan. 1, 2013, and July 13, 2014, where his town time sheets reflected he had worked a full eight-hour day -- and then clocked in at his county job less than 15 minutes later after driving 5 miles during rush hour.

Maragos reviewed part-timers' work after Newsday reported in July that Nassau paid some county part-timers more than full-time employees in the same job. Some have political or community ties or, like Syed, hold other government jobs. The highest paid part-timer -- like Sayed a golf course attendant 1 -- earned nearly $80,000 last year.

After Maragos' audit, Hempstead Town spokesman Michael Deery said Syed had been moved to a new office under direct supervision and was required to clock in and out by scanning his palm electronically.

Previously, Syed, who is a town economic development zone coordinator, did not have to clock in because his job, which was federally funded last year, was considered a management position.

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