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Gerard Terry, embattled town Dem chairman, quits Board of Elections post

Democratic Party leader Gerard Terry emceed the Town

Democratic Party leader Gerard Terry emceed the Town of North Hempstead inauguration ceremony at Clinton Martin Park in New Hyde Park on Jan. 3, 2016. Credit: Steven Sunshine

Gerard Terry, who resigned Monday as North Hempstead’s influential Democratic Party chairman, announced Tuesday that he had also stepped down as assistant counselor to the Nassau County Board of Elections amid questions from Newsday about what work he had performed at the agency.

Newsday filed a Freedom of Information request with the board of elections last month seeking any work product — such as emails, memos or written opinions — Terry produced last year as part of his duties. A board of elections official responded that no such records existed.

Terry’s resignation from a government job that paid him $75,000 in 2015 and provided him with health benefits and credits in the state pension system continued an abrupt fall from power for one of Nassau County’s top Democratic operatives.

Newsday reported Sunday that Terry had compiled nearly $1.4 million in federal and state tax debt while making about $217,000 last year in at least six government jobs. Terry resigned from his post as party leader the next day, hours after North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth called for his resignation and said the town had no plans to renew Terry’s contracts with the town. In addition, Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas announced Monday that her office would investigate Terry, his tax liens and his government work.

Democratic Commissioner David Gugerty, who oversees the board of elections for his party, said Monday the agency would conduct a review of Terry’s role at the board. Gugerty issued a statement Tuesday saying that he had asked Terry to resign.

“Yesterday I asked for, and Gerard Terry has submitted, his resignation from his position at the board of elections,” Gugerty’s statement said. “While his extensive knowledge of election law has served us well, the recently revealed information about his personal conduct raised questions in the public’s mind about whether he should be playing any role in administering elections.”

Terry, in a statement released Tuesday by his spokesman, Gary Lewi, said, “I believe it is important right now for me to focus on resolving issues in my personal life, and I would not want that process to interfere in any way with the board of elections.”

Terry said in an interview last week that he worked “extensively” for the board of elections while “advising the commissioner and advising the staff” over village and special district election laws. “I’m the go-to-guy when it comes to the law on village elections.”

Gugerty said Terry does not have an office at the board of elections and that many of his job duties are performed during the election season. Terry said in the interview that he does not have a law office and works out of the basement of his Roslyn Heights home.

Gugerty confirmed that there was no written work product from Terry to provide and that Terry often gave as-needed legal advice by phone. Gugerty said that while Terry does not maintain an office, he is welcome to work in Gugerty’s two offices.

“He certainly has provided, over time, valuable legal assistance to me and others,” Gugerty said of Terry.

Gugerty said Monday he was not aware of Terry’s tax debts to New York State and the Internal Revenue Service. “I didn’t know it was anything to that extent,” Gugerty said.

Terry, who received a $7,000 raise after Gugerty took over as the Democratic head of the board of elections in 2015, was the agency’s top paid attorney. Thomas Garry made $69,493.84, John Ryan made $53,793.22, and Chris Coschignano made $40,191.65.

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