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Laura Curran nominates Vera Fludd as Nassau County sheriff

Nassau County acting Sheriff Vera Fludd in her

Nassau County acting Sheriff Vera Fludd in her office in East Meadow on March 9, 2018. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran has chosen Vera Fludd as the new county sheriff, citing Fludd’s more than three decades in corrections and her success in boosting morale at the county jail after complaints about inmate health care.

Fludd, 56, of Freeport, the acting sheriff, became a correction officer in 1984 after graduating from Nassau Community College. She rose in the ranks at the jail and, if confirmed by the county legislature, would become Nassau’s first female county sheriff.

“We were interviewing candidates for that position and we just weren’t finding what we wanted,” Curran said Friday. “Then we figured out that the right one was already there.”

Curran, a Democrat, said that since becoming acting sheriff Jan. 1, Fludd has improved morale among the 900 employees at the East Meadow jail by “empowering the captains and other officers to really do their jobs.”

The county legislature’s Rules Committee is expected to vote on Fludd’s nomination and those of three other Curran appointees Monday.

Fludd would succeed former Sheriff Michael Sposato, who was appointed by former Republican County Executive Edward Mangano.

Fludd worked closely with the jail’s top brass as undersheriff for nearly a decade — first with former Sheriff Edward Reilly and then Sposato.

“I’ve worked every rank — every area of the jail. I know the job like the back of my hand. The job is in my head and in my heart,” Fludd said in an interview.

Fludd would step into the sheriff’s job following a period of intense scrutiny of the inmate health care program.

A state Commission of Correction report last year said Armor Correctional Health Services, the jail’s former health care contractor, failed to provide adequate health care treatment, directly resulting in the deaths of three inmates in 2016.

An Armor executive told the commission in a letter that company staff “took appropriate action and their care and treatment in these three matters did not contribute to the demise of the patients.”

Fludd would earn $168,000 annually as sheriff, county officials said Friday. Sposato’s salary was $180,689.

Curran, a vocal critic of Sposato over his management of inmate health care, declined to reappoint him when she took office in January.

The sheriff’s budget is about $160 million, and the jail has about 1,150 inmates.

Fludd said her top priorities are to modernize the system that tracks inmates, institute video conferencing with attorneys, better track overtime and hire more uniformed officers to help keep down overtime costs.

“We need to hire immediately. We are in the process of doing that. We are very short staffed right now,” Fludd said.

Other appointments up for committee votes Monday are those of: Melissa Gallucci as commissioner of the Department of Shared Services; Gregory A. May, as commissioner of Consumer Affairs; and David H. Rich as executive director of the county Traffic and Parking Violations Agency, according to administration officials.

Under separate legislation before the Rules Committee on Monday, the Office of Consumer Affairs would absorb the county Taxi and Limousine Commission. May’s appointment depends on adoption of the measure, county officials said.

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