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North Hempstead Ethics Board cites the town’s deputy clerk

Gerard Terry leaves Nassau County police headquarters on

Gerard Terry leaves Nassau County police headquarters on April 12, 2016, to head for arraignment on an income tax related charge in Mineola. Credit: Howard Schnapp

The North Hempstead Ethics Board has cited Deputy Town Clerk Concetta Terry for failure to disclose debts, according to a letter issued by the ethics board.

Newsday in January reported that Gerard Terry had compiled nearly $1.4 million in federal and state tax debts and that Concetta Terry, his wife, did not list those debts on her official town financial disclosure forms, which require the reporting of a spouse’s debts in excess of $5,000.

Town Attorney Elizabeth Botwin would not comment Friday on whether Concetta Terry would be cited for not listing her husband’s debts.

The ethics board will hold a hearing next Wednesday and “decide the case on its merits,” according to town spokeswoman Carole Trottere. The board can issue penalties according to the town’s code, which can be fines up to $10,000, or refer it for possible criminal prosecution.

Gerard Terry is the town’s former Democratic chairman, outside counsel and zoning board of appeals lawyer. Nassau County prosecutors charged him on April 12 with felony tax fraud. He has pleaded not guilty to those charges.

The ethics board letter — labeled a “Notice of Reasonable Cause” — states that Concetta Terry “failed to disclose a debt of the reporting individual” in her financial disclosure form and an amended financial disclosure form for the reporting years 2007, 2008, 2012 and 2013, and that “Concetta Terry understated the category of a debt of the reporting individual” on her amended forms for the reporting years 2012 and 2013.

Concetta Terry, who as the deputy town clerk is paid $80,371 annually, did not respond to requests for comment Friday.

Town officials referred Concetta Terry’s “omission” for not reporting her husband’s debts to the ethics board in the wake of the Newsday story. Those proceedings began in February and were not open to the public.

The ethics board at its May 9 meeting “found reasonable cause to believe that a violation of the Town of North Hempstead Code of Ethics has occurred,” according to the letter issued to Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth and the town board on Thursday. The letter was obtained by Newsday.

Since the Gerard Terry disclosures, the town has enacted reforms to its financial disclosure laws. For the first time in 25 years, officials will enforce the municipal requirement that town party leaders file financial disclosure forms. The town now also requires vendors who advise town boards to file financial disclosure forms, and the town attorney has recommended the additional requirement that vendors also disclose tax debts.

Bosworth on Friday declined an interview request. However in a written statement she said: “If forms are not filled out or information is not provided, it is the duty of the Board of Ethics to follow up and bring charges where necessary. Unfortunately that had to happen in the case of Connie Terry. I understand that the next step is a hearing and determination of penalty and that the Board’s review is ongoing.”

She added: “I commend the members of the Board for their thoughtful consideration of these issues and their determination to see that all our employees provide accurate and full disclosure.”

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