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Suffolk lawmakers table motions related to Salvatore Gigante promotion

Suffolk legislators on Wednesday tabled two measures related to the contested promotion of county police Sgt. Salvatore Gigante, whose promotion triggered a whistleblower probe and a review by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The government operations committee voted to table two opposing motions — one to approve his promotion to head the district attorney’s police detective squad, and another to reassign him.

Gigante is the nephew of Chief of Detectives Gerard Gigante, who police officials said removed himself from the selection process.

Salvatore Gigante was transferred to the detective squad in January. But his promotion to detective sergeant has been stalled because lawmakers first must approve a nepotism waiver.

Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said Gigante was the "best person" for the DA's office job and the only applicant who had previous experience in the district attorney section.

But Joel Weiss, outside counsel for the Legislature, said in a June report that Gigante was the least qualified candidate and that the promotion violated police department rules and county and state law.

Det. Sgt. Jeffrey Walker, who was passed over for the promotion, said he filed a whistleblower complaint out of concern that procedures were not followed. 

Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory (D-Copiague) said Gigante should be reassigned because the selection process was flawed.

County Legis. Susan Berland (D-Dix Hills), William J. Lindsay III (D-Bohemia) and Kevin McCaffrey (R-Lindenhurst) said the Legislature is not in a position to determine who is qualified to hold the detective squad position. They said Gigante's family connection harmed him, not helped him. 

“The scrutiny this individual has gone under has far exceeded any other nepotism waiver request here, and this is a case where I truly believe his last name has hurt him,” McCaffrey said.

Deputy Presiding Officer Robert Calarco (D-Patchogue) said the Legislature should not move forward on either resolution until the Justice Department has completed its investigation.

The department’s civil rights division informed the county in March about its concerns regarding Gigante’s transfer and appointment. The county has been under a consent decree dealing with minority hiring since 1983.

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