John Scott Prudenti, a former chief of the Suffolk district attorney's auto theft bureau, has won a battle in the state Appellate Division in Brooklyn to keep his county financial disclosure forms private despite the Suffolk County Legislature's attempt to make them public.
The four-judge panel ruled unanimously that a 2016 legislative resolution directing the Suffolk board of ethics to make Prudenti’s forms public was an attempt to circumvent the board‘s power under a county law that permitted them to determine if information could remain private.
Presiding Justice Alan D. Scheinkman said the legislative resolution went “beyond its authority” and “wrongly placed itself in the position of a reviewing court” to try to force the release of the documents. “A legislative body may not usurp the court’s power to interpret and apply the law,” Scheinkman ruled.
The legislative action, backed by Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, came after Newsday reported that Prudenti had rented his partyboat to criminal defense attorneys with cases before the district attorney’s office.
Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory (D-Copiague) said the case is so old it is not worth pursuing. But Gregory said he would be open to creation of new legislation to expand public access to officials' financial disclosure statements.