Republican Steve Labriola, who lost his bid for Nassau County comptroller last fall, has filed a $2 million lawsuit against the election’s Democratic winner, former Long Beach City Manager Jack Schnirman, for allegedly making “malicious and patently false statements” about Labriola in a campaign commercial.
Labriola, a former state assemblyman who was chief compliance officer for former Republican County Executive Edward Mangano, contends that Schnirman said falsely during the campaign that Labriola was responsible for the “corrupt contracts” that were the center of a federal corruption case against Mangano that ended in a mistrial last week.
Labriola was Oyster Bay Town clerk when the two contracts cited in the Mangano trial were awarded in 2011 and 2012, according to the lawsuit filed in State Supreme Court last week. Labriola didn’t start working for Mangano until March 2015, it says.
Mangano had pleaded not guilty to federal charges that he accepted bribes and other favors from restaurateur Harendra Singh in return for county work.
Singh was paid $238,000 to provide meals to emergency workers dealing with the aftermath of superstorm Sandy while Singh’s wife was to provide bread and rolls to the county jail, but she pulled out of the deal before any work was done. Jurors could not agree on a verdict after a 12-week trial in Central Islip.
Though Labriola notified Schnirman in the fall that the commercial’s allegations were false, Schnirman continued to run the ad, which still appears on the web, the lawsuit says.
Rather than stopping, Schnirman “spread and repeated his lies . . . damaging Steven’s reputation and turning his life asunder,” wrote Byron A. Divins Jr., Labriola’s attorney.
“To be clear, [Schnirman’s] accusations are false, have no basis in reality and are not based upon any conviction or other activity. . . . They are simply false.” Divins wrote.
Labriola is asking for $1 million in damages for defamation and $1 million for intentional infliction of emotional distress. He has demanded a jury trial.
Kim Devlin, a political adviser to Schnirman, called the lawsuit, “a ridiculous waste of the court’s time by a candidate who lost his race seven months ago. It would be laughable if it weren’t so bizarre. Jack is focused on reforming Nassau County as he was elected to do.”