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Gerard Terry supporters urge leniency

Former North Hempstead Democratic Party leader Gerard Terry

Former North Hempstead Democratic Party leader Gerard Terry leaves federal court in Central Islip, Jan. 31, 2017. Credit: Ed Betz

Rep. Thomas Suozzi and state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli are among the dozens of elected officials and community leaders urging a federal judge to show leniency in the sentencing of former North Hempstead Town Democratic chairman Gerard Terry.

Terry, 63, of Roslyn Heights, pleaded guilty in October to tax evasion of nearly $1 million. Federal prosecutors say Terry intentionally avoided paying taxes from 2000 to 2015, using schemes that included government workers, a law firm, and a business.

Federal prosecutors are recommending Terry serve a 54-month prison sentence. His sentencing by U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert is scheduled for May 11.

A court filing made public Wednesday contains more than 100 letters to Seybert defending Terry’s character. Nearly 40 of those letters are from public officials, practicing attorneys and others who touted Terry’s skills as an attorney, his integrity as a community leader and his reputation as a loving friend, husband and father.

“He has a rare skill set in the world of politics, government and community service,” Suozzi said in a March 15 letter.

Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) wrote that he met Terry in 1990 while volunteering on the campaign of the late Gov. Mario Cuomo, although they were only “political acquaintances” during much of the time they knew each other. In the 2001 Democratic primary for Nassau County executive, Terry was senior adviser to DiNapoli in his unsuccessful campaign against Suozzi.

Suozzi told Seybert that Terry was “genuinely remorseful. I am certain he has suffered a great deal during the course of his public humiliation, his indictment, the abandonment by many of his political acquaintances, his financial troubles, his health issues, the stresses on his family life, his guilty plea, and the anxiety as he awaits sentencing.”

DiNapoli on Feb. 3 wrote that he and Terry attended Mineola Junior High School in the 1960s and called Terry “a friend through all the decades since then . . . I humbly suggest the court examine the totality of Gerard’s life, including his many years of community involvement.”

Suozzi and DiNapoli declined to comment for this story.

Terry’s defense attorney, Stephen Scaring, called it “pretty remarkable that so many people have come to his aid and are telling the court about all of the positive things he has done in his life.”

Other current and former public officials who vouched for Terry in letters to Seybert included ex-Town of North Hempstead supervisor Jon Kaiman; North Hempstead town council members Lee Seeman and Viviana Russell; Hempstead Town Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby; former Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Lewis J. Yevoli; and Village of Great Neck Plaza Mayor Jean Celender, all Democrats.

Former LIPA chief and Nassau IDA board member Richard Kessel, former Hofstra Law School dean Eric Lane, and state NAACP president Hazel Dukes also advocated for Terry.

Dukes, who has known Terry for 46 years, asked Seybert to “emphasize community service over incarceration . . . I am confident he still has it inside him to do good and positive things in his life, if you give him the opportunity to do so.”

Terry declined to comment.

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