James Dzurenda has resigned as Nassau County sheriff.

James Dzurenda has resigned as Nassau County sheriff. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Nassau County Sheriff James Dzurenda has resigned from office and Undersheriff Anthony LaRocco will become acting sheriff, officials in the administration of County Executive Bruce Blakeman said Tuesday.

A spokesman for the administration declined to give a reason for Dzurenda's resignation.

It was unclear Tuesday when a search for a new county sheriff would begin. 

In a statement, Blakeman said: “I wish sheriff Dzurenda good luck in his future endeavors. I am confident that Anthony LaRocco with his wealth of experience will be able to manage the important responsibilities of Sheriff.”

Dzurenda told Newsday he grew increasingly frustrated in the sheriff's job and will begin in a new job in January.

"When you feel like you can’t make the changes you want, the job doesn’t become enjoyable," Dzurenda said.

"It’s a tough time right now in the county; it’s not a great environment to work in and if I felt like I wasn’t going anywhere, why would I stay?" he said.

Dzurenda declined to provide details of his new position.

Dzurenda, who was appointed by former Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, had spent more than 30 years leading state correction departments in Connecticut and Nevada.

Blakeman, a Republican, defeated Curran and became county executive in January. 

Also Tuesday, administration officials said Michael Sposato, whom Blakeman brought back to the county corrections department in January as deputy undersheriff, will become Nassau Commissioner of Corrections, overseeing operations at the county jail in East Meadow. 

Sposato served as Nassau County sheriff during the administration of former County Executive Edward Mangano, a Republican.

Curran, a vocal critic of Sposato over his management of inmate health care, declined to reappoint him when she took office in January 2018.

“Commissioner Sposato has the institutional knowledge to implement efficiencies, operational integrity, cost saving measures,” said county spokesman Christopher Boyle.

Nassau County Corrections Officers’ Benevolent Association President Brian Sullivan told Newsday he and other union members were, "extremely angry" with Blakeman's decision to promote Sposato to corrections commissioner.

Sullivan called Sposato's appointment, "a slap in the face to everyone in this department given his long history here."

Sullivan raised no objections to LaRocco's appointment as acting sheriff.

"I have known Anthony LaRocco many years and believe him to be an honorable person, someone I can work with," Sullivan said.

The corrections officers union had called for Sposato's firing as sheriff, alleging lapses in security and other mismanagement of the jail.

The union held rallies outside the jail that drew hundreds of corrections officers and staff.

Sposato denied the union allegations. 

Sposato also had supported the jail’s private medical contractor, Armor Correctional Health Services, after a state oversight agency found the vendor provided inadequate care in connection with inmate deaths. 

Nassau County Legis. Siela Bynoe (D-Westbury), a critic of jail operations during the Mangano administration, said Tuesday: "After his highly questionable initial tenure as Sheriff, it is profoundly troubling that the administration sees fit to elevate Mr. Sposato to a position in which he will be directly responsible for the care and custody of inmates."

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