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Ex-Islip Conservative leader pleads guilty to non-criminal violation

Michael Torres, former Islip Conservative party leader, leaves

Michael Torres, former Islip Conservative party leader, leaves the courtroom at Central Islip Criminal Court on Nov. 6, 2014. Credit: James Carbone

Former Islip Conservative Chairman Michael Torres has pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and agreed to pay a $250 fine for failing to disclose in an Islip town job application a past criminal record for gambling.

The case was resolved as a non-criminal violation Friday before State Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho. Torres had been arrested in 2014 and charged with offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree—a Class E felony.

The original charge alleged that Torres failed to disclose his prior misdemeanor conviction for promoting gambling in the second degree in response to a question on a 2013 job application for the Islip Board of Reassessment Review on whether he had ever been convicted of a crime. Torres left the part-time, $8,000-a-year post in 2015 when he moved from Islip to Eastport.

Torres, 44, still influential in the Suffolk Conservative Committee as party secretary, said, “On behalf of my wife, Betsy, and our newborn son, Brayden, we are glad to have the matter concluded and behind us. Our family looks forward to a fresh start in 2018.”

Robert Clifford, a district attorney’s spokesman, said the disposition “was the result of a number of factors, including issues relating to the strength of evidence and an assessment of whether the case could be proven at trial beyond a reasonable doubt.”

While there was probable cause for Torres’ initial arrest, Clifford said, Torres insisted in a post-arrest investigation that he was unaware that his guilty plea constituted a criminal conviction and was not informed as such by his then attorney, now deceased.

Clifford added prosecutors were unable to find witnesses or records showing Torres had such knowledge, which “exposed a weakness in the case that could not be resolved.” In addition, Clifford said the original application could not be located and a forensic expert could not definitively point to Torres as the signer from a copy.

Clifford added Torres also “provided material assistance in a significant investigation . . . which clarified important issues that arose . . . in later trials,” which also was taken into consideration. He did not identify the case.

]In addition to the fine, Torres also paid a mandatory $120 surcharge fee.

Justin Meyers, spokesman for District Attorney-elect Tim Sini, declined comment of the disposition of the Torres case as did Kenneth Auerbach, former Brookhaven Conservative chairman and a Torres political opponent. John Jay LaValle, Suffolk GOP chairman, did not return calls for comment.

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