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Steve Bellone urges board to complete ethics inquiry into Prudenti

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone looks on during

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone looks on during a news conference in Smithtown, Friday, May 13, 2016. Credit: Barry Sloan

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone has sent a letter to the county board of ethics urging it to complete an inquiry into Assistant District Attorney John Scott Prudenti, three months after Bellone filed a complaint over Prudenti’s boat rental to defense lawyers.

“Prudenti continues to prosecute cases as a Bureau Chief in the District Attorney’s Office despite what appear to be serious violations of the County’s Ethics Code,” Bellone said in a letter sent Tuesday and obtained by Newsday. “It is imperative that the Board of Ethics complete its investigation and publicly rule on whether Prudenti violated the Ethics Code and impose any penalties that are appropriate.”

Bellone asked for a status update on the investigation and when a final decision can be expected.

The Suffolk Board of Ethics executive director Samantha Segal and outside counsel John Gross didn’t return requests for comment.

Prudenti, who leads District Attorney Thomas Spota’s Vehicular Crimes Bureau, did not respond to a request for comment made through district attorney spokesman Bob Clifford. Clifford also did not respond to a request for comment.

Bellone on May 23 filed a complaint with the ethics board that the boat rentals “would seem an obvious and apparent violation of numerous sections of the County’s Code of Ethics that was in effect at the time of the conduct.”

The complaint cited two Newsday articles in which defense attorneys said they paid $1,500 to $5,000 to rent Prudenti’s 47-foot Christina Marie, sometimes for trips in which the boat didn’t leave the dock.

Previously, Clifford told Newsday that before 2010 Prudenti chartered his boat, sometimes to attorneys, and served as captain. Those on board covered operating costs, including for bait and fuel. Prudenti also hosted summer gatherings on the boat, which remained docked during the parties, and members of the defense bar shared the costs of food and beverages, Clifford said.

Bellone in May called on Spota to resign, citing stories in Newsday that detailed how the office failed to investigate alleged criminal wrongdoing uncovered on wiretaps. Spota said that he had done nothing wrong, and that Bellone had a vendetta because of prosecutions of his political allies.

Newsday has reported federal investigators are probing whether Spota and his top corruption prosecutor, Christopher McPartland, took part in the cover-up of the assault on a man who stole a duffel bag from the former Suffolk County Police Chief James Burke’s SUV, according to sources familiar with the investigation.


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