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Suffolk County lawmakers vote down police promotion

A police promotion that prompted a whistleblower complaint and allegations of nepotism was defeated in the Suffolk County Legislature Tuesday.

Detective Salvatore Gigante lost in his effort to become a detective sergeant on a 9-7 vote. 

Gigante is the nephew of Chief of Detectives Gerard Gigante, who police officials said recused himself from the promotion process.

The promotion prompted nepotism allegations and a whistleblower complaint from another department member.

Police officials have said Salvatore Gigante was the best candidate for the job on the district attorney’s police squad, an assertion disputed by police who were passed over for the promotion and by an attorney hired to investigate the whistleblower allegations.

Legislators voted down the promotion the same day former District Attorney Thomas Spota and a top aide were convicted in federal court of helping cover up the police beating of a prisoner.

Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory said the Spota trial highlighted some issues in the police department that appear to be mirrored in the promotion process.

“If we don’t address that culture of cronyism and nepotism, we’re going to have issues in the future,” Gregory (D-Copiague) said.

Legis. Robert Trotta (R-Fort Salonga), a former police detective, said the promotion would make department officers think “the good old boy system is working.”

Legis. Tom Donnelly (D-Deer Park) defended the Gigante family, saying Gerard Gigante is “an incredibly honorable man.”

A police spokesperson said Salvatore Gigante will be transferred out of the squad in a role he had been filling before the legislature's vote.

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