The Nassau County legislature voted unanimously Monday to confirm Democrat County Executive Laura Curran’s appointment of Jared Kasschau as county attorney after the Rockville Centre lawyer pledged to run his office with integrity and transparency.
But presiding officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) warned Kasschau, a former partner in the Democrat-connected law firm of Harris Beach, that majority Republican legislators were “concerned about an outsized influence over county government by that firm.”
Kasschau resigned from Harris Beach, whose Long Island managing partner Thomas Garry ran Curran’s transition team, when nominated him to the $170,000-a-year post.
Kasschau said he “will not be swayed in any shape or form by my prior affiliations with other law firms.”
But he declined to discuss Harris Beach’s assurances to lenders that Oyster Bay concession agreements required the town to back millions of dollars in loans to concessionaire Harendra Singh and his affiliated companies.
The loan guarantees are a central element in federal charges against former Republican County Executive Edward Mangano and former GOP town supervisor John Venditto. Prosecutors allege that Venditto and Mangano, who have pleaded not guilty, conspired with Singh to have Oyster Bay back Singh loans in return for kickbacks and bribes.
Newsday reported Sunday that Harris Beach partner William Garry, Thomas Garry’s brother, wrote and worked on letters to lenders from 2010 through April 2014. Singh has pleaded guilty to bribing Venditto and Mangano.
Neither Harris Beach nor William Garry have been charged with wrongdoing but both are expected to testify in the March criminal trials.
Kasschau said he started at Harris Beach in September 2014 and had no involvement in the loan guarantees.
When Legis. Rose Marie Walker (R-Hicksville) asked if Kasschau discussed the Oyster Bay transactions with his firm, he said, “Respectfully, I will not, I cannot comment on conversations with attorneys in my firm, especially since it involves pending litigation.”
Legis. John Ferretti, Jr. (R-Levittown) asked how Kasschau would answer if asked whether the county could guarantee a private loan with taxpayer money.
“I am sorry, I will not answer that hypothetical question,” Kasschau responded. “Please respect my decision. It involves pending litigation regarding my former firm.”
Legis. Steve Rhoads (R-Bellmore) said, “As county attorney you may be called upon to answer.”
But Nicolello interrupted, “I think Mr. Kasschau has responded,” he said.