Samantha Lee Segal Esq. in Greenlawn on April 1.

Samantha Lee Segal Esq. in Greenlawn on April 1. Credit: Newsday / Steve Pfost

Samantha Lee Segal has resigned as executive director of the Suffolk County Board of Ethics as part of a $150,000 settlement of her complaint that she faced antisemitism and sexual harassment on the job — allegations county officials deny.

In a complaint filed with the New York State Human Rights Commission, Segal said she was denied time off for Yom Kippur, considered the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, and that co-workers told her Jewish holidays weren't “real.”

In the complaint, Segal also said one co-worker used vulgar terms to describe imagining having sex with her on a Jewish holiday.

The complaint did not name any of the co-workers or officials Segal said harassed her.

In the settlement agreement signed March 16, Suffolk County denied Segal's allegations.

An independent investigation conducted by outside counsel hired by the county found Segal's allegations to be unsubstantiated, the county said.

“Suffolk County takes any allegations of misconduct extremely seriously and an outside, independent investigator was hired to thoroughly investigate each and every claim,” Marykate Guilfoyle, a spokeswoman for Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, said in a statement to Newsday.

“After examining hundreds of documents and conducting nearly 70 interviews, the independent review found the claims to be unsubstantiated,” Guilfoyle said.

Guilfoyle said the county agreed to the settlement, which included Segal's resignation from county service, after her lawyer requested a severance package.

“Based on the findings of the investigation, it was determined that separation from service was the best course of action,” Guilfoyle said.

Segal told Newsday she agreed to leave her job because conditions had become “beyond intolerable,” and officials “could not assure that the harassment would stop.” 

Segal said county officials “never said, ‘Let's find a way to correct the problem.’ They said, ‘Let's find a way to settle.’”

Segal, who earned $153,295 in 2021, according to county payroll records, resigned March 30.

Under the settlement, which Newsday reviewed, the county will pay Segal $150,000 and cover her health insurance benefits for a year. The county will also pay $75,000 in legal fees to her attorneys at the law firm of Kessler Matura P.C. in Melville.

In exchange, Segal agreed to resign and withdraw her complaint to the state Human Rights Commission, and another that was lodged with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Segal, 44, of Greenlawn, started at the board of ethics in 2013, and became its first executive director.

The county Board of Ethics investigates complaints of ethical violations by county officials, issues advisory opinions on ethics matters and collects financial disclosure forms from county officials.

The board has five members — two nominated by the county executive and one each by the county legislature's presiding officer and majority and minority leaders, with a limit of three members from the same political party.

The executive director, a licensed attorney, helps carry out the board's functions.

John Gross, independent counsel to the ethics board, said the board appreciated the county's probe of Segal's assertions.

“But at the same time, the board certainly wishes Samantha well and thanks her for all of her expert work and helping to establish the Suffolk County Board of Ethics,” Gross told Newsday.

Michael Cornaccia, an outside attorney who helped conduct the investigation for the county, did not respond to a request for comment.

Valerie Gotlib, the other attorney hired by the county, could not be reached for comment.

A new executive director, Jessica Hogan, a municipal attorney, has been hired to replace Segal, Gross said.

Hogan, 50, of Central Islip, served recently as a principal assistant county attorney in the Suffolk County Attorney’s Office.

Hogan also has worked as an attorney for the New York City Administration for Children’s Services, and as deputy counsel for the city Conflicts of Interest Board. 

The Suffolk County Legislature abolished the previous county ethics commission in 2012, after a special grand jury report found it had been used as a political weapon. 

The report from former Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota's office found former County Executive Steve Levy during his term in office had used the ethics panel to wage attacks on political opponents. No criminal charges were filed.

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