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Long IslandPoliticsSpin Cycle

Nassau lawsuit ends with $4M whimper

Five years ago, it was billed as the scandal that would blow Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi out of the water.

From the Long Island Press on My 26, 2005:

(Georgina) “Morgenstern, who worked in economic development under former Deputy County Executive Peter Sylver, says she witnessed illegal acts on a daily basis: Federal funds earmarked to help the poor were used to finance campaign appearances; county workers raised campaign funds on the taxpayers’ dime. State and federal environmental laws were routinely disregarded to save time. The administration failed to follow proper procedures and get competitive bids for county work.”

“These illegal activities were committed by a number of county officials at the direct behest of Deputy County Executive Anthony Cancellieri and Suozzi himself, she says. When she spoke up about the problems to her supervisors, she adds, she was harassed and then terminated.”

The case was closed out Monday when the Nassau County Legislature voted to settle her $35 million lawsuit for wrongful firing for just over $4 million.

A federal jury in Central Islip rejected her claim last August that she was fired in retaliation for her criticism of Suozzi, but awarded her $3.4 million because she was two days past her probationary period and could not be fired without cause. The trial judge tacked on back pay and other costs later.

Suozzi had been dismissed as a defendant, and the trial never turned up any startling revelations about his administration.

“Two days. The dopey so-and-so’s couldn’t count days on a calendar and it’s costing us $4 million,” one current county official said Monday.

The county attorney in the Suozzi years, Lorna Goodman, said the jury got it wrong. “She really was a probationary employee, but it was complicated and the jury didn’t understand it,” Goodman said.


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