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Former Rep. Gary Ackerman leaves Suffolk civil service consulting job

Former Democratic Rep. Gary Ackerman.

Former Democratic Rep. Gary Ackerman. Credit: Andreas C. Constantinou

Former U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman has left his consulting job with the Suffolk County Department of Civil Service after he was accused in a lawsuit of sexually abusing a teenage boy at a Boy Scout camp more than 50 years ago, officials said.

Ackerman, 76, notified officials on Monday that “he was withdrawing from further engagement with the county due to personal considerations,” said Jason Elan, a spokesman for County Executive Steve Bellone.

“The former Congressman is no longer working with the County,” Elan said in a statement. 

Ackerman, a Democrat who retired from Congress in 2012, worked as a special adviser to the Civil Service department for less than six months. Officials announced his hiring in February after the Bellone administration ousted Civil Service chief Alan Schneider.

The lawsuit, filed Aug. 16 in state Supreme Court in Manhattan, accused Ackerman of sexually abusing a 17-year-old boy in 1966 while working at the Ten Mile River Camp near Narrowsburg, in upstate New York.

Ackerman has denied the allegations through an attorney, who said Ackerman would fight the suit and seek dismissal of the case.

A message left at a phone number listed for Ackerman's Roslyn Heights home was not returned immediately.

Ackerman was to earn up to $24,999 from March 1 through Feb. 29, 2020, just below the threshold that would require legislative approval, according to his contract. He has not yet been paid, county Comptroller John M. Kennedy Jr. said. 

Kennedy, a Republican who is challenging Bellone in November, had called on the administration to terminate Ackerman’s contract. On Wednesday, Kennedy questioned the validity of Ackerman's contract, expressing concern about whether county officials used the proper protocol in hiring him. "I don’t think he should’ve ever been in [the job] to begin with," Kennedy said. 

Ackerman was hired because of his unique experience in civil service matters, Elan said. Ackerman serves as a Nassau County Civil Service commissioner. In 2018, his salary was $20,000, payroll records show.

Ackerman's contract with Suffolk also reignited debate over the county civil service department’s leadership.

Jo-Anne Taormina has been running the department as personnel officer without legislature approval since February. Bellone announced Taormina’s hiring, along with Ackerman’s, hours after his aides removed Schneider from office.

The County Legislature is required by law to confirm the personnel director but has not yet received a resolution to do so, officials said.

Taormina is leading a review of the department, and “we will make a decision on the future leadership of the department” when the review is complete, Elan said.

Ackerman's civil service duties included acting as a liaison to other municipalities served by the civil service department and providing technical assistance on civil service classifications, according to the contract and a news release announcing his hiring.

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