Attorney Edward Ambrosino, who pleaded not guilty Friday to federal charges of tax evasion and wire fraud, has a long history in Nassau County Republican politics, serving on the GOP-controlled Hempstead Town board and as special counsel to Republican County Executive Edward Mangano.
A protégé of powerful North Valley Stream GOP leader Joseph Cairo, who is second in command of the Nassau Republican party, Ambrosino served as the first counsel to the then-Republican majority of the new county legislature, which took office in 1996. He became friends with Mangano, who began his political career as a new legislator from Bethpage.
Mangano was charged by federal prosecutors in October with trading county work for personal favors from Bethpage restaurateur Harendra Singh. He has pleaded not guilty.
After Republicans lost control of the county legislature, Ambrosino in 2003 was appointed to the town board, replacing retiring GOP member Joseph J. Kearney. Ambrosino earns $71,000 annually in that role.
Ambrosino could not be reached for comment Friday.
In 2007, Ambrosino, Mangano and Bethpage electrician Robert Essig became joint owners of a two-bedroom, two-bath condominium on a golf course in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, under the corporate name of Mae Bee Equities.
Recent financial disclosures show that Ambrosino and Mangano also are partners in Blue Rhino Capital, a private equity investment firm.
As Mangano’s special counsel, Ambrosino was paid a total $100,000 from 2012 through 2013. But the county’s financial control board in 2014 questioned Ambrosino’s various law jobs hats when Mangano proposed increasing Ambrosino’s contract to $235,000.
At that point, Ambrosino was being paid as member of the Hempstead Town board; as general counsel to the Nassau Industrial Development Agency and for his work as counsel to to the Ruskin Moscou Faltischek law firm, where then-state Senate Co-Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) also was of counsel.
The county ethics board, composed of Mangano appointees, ruled Ambrosino did not have a conflict but his proposed contract increase never moved forward. The indictment said Ambrosino has continued to act as special counsel, and Democrats say he sits in on meetings with Mangano. Mangano did not respond to questions about how Ambrosino continues to get paid if his contract was not extended.
The Nassau IDA, whose members are appointed by Mangano, hired Ambrosino in June 2010, and had paid him $1.5 million through early 2016, records show. Under his IDA contract, Ambrosino was to earn $250 an hour for general legal services. For financial assistance projects, he would earn either $350 an hour, or a tenth of one percent of the total costs of the transaction, whichever is less.
Ambrosino never reported his IDA income on financial disclosure reports he filed with the Town of Hempstead.
State officials said the town is responsible for ensuring public officials’ compliance with disclosure laws. “The town attorney’s office in the Town of Hempstead oversees the filing of financial disclosures,” town spokesman Michael Deery said. “It’s the responsibility of the individual filers to ensure the accuracy of their disclosure statements.”
Ambrosino left Ruskin Moscou Faltischek after Skelos was convicted in December 2015 on federal corruption charges. Skelos is appealing.
Ambrosino became “of counsel” to Mangano’s former law firm, Rivkin Radler, which has received millions of dollars in county contracts under Mangano.
Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony Santino, who named Ambrosino his deputy supervisor last year, declined to comment on Ambrosino’s indictment.
Nassau Legis. Laura Curran (D-Baldwin), who is seeking to run as the Democratic nominee for county executive this year, called Friday for Ambrosino’s resignation from both the town board and county IDA.
“Once again, a public official is charged with federal crimes,” she said in a statement. “I join residents across our county who are sick and tired of career politicians acting as if the rules don’t apply to them.”