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Zahid Syed recommended for Nassau human rights panel

County Executive Ed Mangano on March 31, 2017.

County Executive Ed Mangano on March 31, 2017. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

County Executive Edward Mangano has recommended the reappointment of Zahid Syed as chairman of Nassau’s Human Rights Commission despite Syed’s suspension three years ago from his part-time county job because of time card irregularities.

Mangano submitted Syed’s name to the county legislature for confirmation along with the appointment or reappointment of nine others to the commission. Among the proposed new commissioners is Bobby Kumar Kalotee, the former chairman of the Nassau County Independence Party who once faked his own kidnapping.

But Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) did not call for a legislative vote on Mangano’s proposed appointments at Monday’s meeting, and a spokesman said she does not plan to, particularly in regard to Syed, whose position is unpaid.

Appointees whose terms have expired can serve until a replacement is approved, said Gonsalves aide Frank Moroney. That means there is no need for the legislature to vote on Syed or Mangano’s other reappointments, he said.

“It’s a no-go,” Moroney said.

The county’s administrative code calls for Human Rights Commission members to have three-year terms. Eight of the members proposed by Mangano, including Syed, would be able to continue serving a year or two into the term of whoever takes office as county executive next January.

Mangano, who is fighting federal corruption charges, has not said whether he will run for re-election in November. Republicans are expected to nominate former State Sen. Jack Martins, of Old Westbury.

Gonsalves and Republican legislators, who are all up for re-election this year, have been warring with Republican Mangano and a month ago called on him to resign.

Newsday reported in 2014 that Syed, a full-time Hempstead Town employee, had earned $66,500 in 2013 as a $50-an-hour part-time county golf course attendant.

County Comptroller George Maragos subsequently found 159 irregularities in Syed’s time cards. Syed acknowledged attending dinners and other community events on Mangano’s behalf while being paid by the county.

Syed, who co-founded the local chapter of the South Asian-American political action committee, has contributed thousands of dollars to Mangano and other politicians, Republican and Democrat.

Records show that Syed left his county job soon after his October 2014 suspension ended but has continued to work full time in Hempstead, where he earns $132,745 annually as an Economic Development zone coordinator.

Syed did not return a call for comment.

When asked why Mangano had proposed Syed’s reappointment, spokesman Brian Nevin said only that Syed had served without pay for seven years as the commission chairman.

Maragos, who switched party registrations from Republican to Democrat to run this year for county executive, said in response to Syed’s renomination: “The audit speaks for itself. I would not be making this appointment.”

Maragos had turned over his report on Syed’s timecard irregularities to the district attorney, who issued no charges.

“The NCDA did not find evidence of criminality in this matter and the case was handled administratively by Syed’s employing agencies,” said Brendan Brosh, a spokesman for Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas.

The district attorney handled another case of alleged official record irregularities much differently.

Singas in 2015 charged Edward Korona Jr., Nassau’s deputy commissioner of emergency management, with four counts each of felony perjury, felony offering a false instrument for filing and felony making a false sworn statement and misdemeanor official misconduct for lying on civil service applications.

Korona, who was hired by the county in 1986, had answered “no” on four applications to the county civil service commission from December 2007 to June 2013 when asked if he ever had been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony. He had been convicted in 1982 of second-degree burglary and attempted burglary when he was 19.

Korona pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor last year and was sentenced to a 1-year conditional discharge.

Brosh said Syed and Korona’s cases were not comparable.

“Mr. Korona was hired as a machine supervisor and appointed to the important post of Deputy Commissioner of the Office of Emergency Management where he was entrusted with the safety of Nassau residents in times of crisis,” said Brosh. “Korona was prosecuted because of the crimes he committed — based on the evidence obtained through our investigation — and he pled guilty.”


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