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N. Hempstead set to vote on appointing town attorney who worked in Curran administration

John Chiara is a major in the Army

John Chiara is a major in the Army Reserve and a veteran of the Afghanistan War. The former acting Nassau County Attorney is expected to be named North Hempstead town attorney. Credit: Danielle Silverman

The North Hempstead Town Board is expected to approve the appointment of John Chiara, former acting Nassau County attorney, as the new town attorney at its Thursday board meeting.

Chiara would replace Leonard Kapsalis, 68, who is retiring after three years with the town, officials said. North Hempstead’s 2022 budget lists a $164,084 salary for Kapsalis. Chiara’s appointment would be effective immediately upon the board’s approval and he will be paid $173,000 a year.

"I’m going to do the same thing I did when I was a legal adviser in Afghanistan or when I was working for [Nassau] County Executive [Laura] Curran, or I was the acting county attorney … the first thing you have to do is to learn the office and understand what you need to make things work better," Chiara told Newsday on Wednesday. "The most important thing about working and running any organization is getting to know the people and how it works."

Chiara, 43, of Garden City, brings more than 15 years’ experience in public service. As acting county attorney from June 2021 until last month, he helped negotiate multimillion-dollar settlements with large pharmaceutical companies and managed close to 100 people, including attorneys and support staff.

He joined Curran’s administration as a deputy county executive for compliance in January 2018 until he was appointed as acting county attorney. Chiara said a major accomplishment was creating transparency in the office by changing the way procurements and disclosure forms were tracked and filed.

"I’ve spent my career since law school working at different levels of government, and I think the thing I’m most proud of, working for County Executive Curran, was that we brought a level of professionalism to procurement and compliance, which I think is incredibly important," Chiara said.

Chiara is a major in the Army Reserve and a veteran of the Afghanistan War, where he said he was chief legal adviser to a commander. He graduated in 2001 from Columbia University with a degree in political science and in 2006 received his law degree from Hofstra University.

After law school, Chiara worked as an assistant district attorney for the New York County District Attorney’s office in the trial division and rackets bureau. He also was a special counsel and assistant attorney general in the New York State Attorney General’s office. He later worked as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

Chiara said being the town attorney would give him a unique opportunity to make local government work better. He said residents should expect an "honest, hard-working person, who’s going to follow the law."

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