Albert D'Agostino, the politically prominent Nassau attorney who got a six-figure public pension after the state retroactively approved 21 years of credit for him, must give up his pension and pay back the more than $600,000 he has collected, the New York State comptroller's office said Tuesday.

In an Aug. 19 letter to D'Agostino, the comptroller's office said D'Agostino had been improperly reported as an employee of three school districts and a village, town and county, when he actually was an independent contractor. The agency found he is not eligible for any pension.

D'Agostino vowed to appeal.

"Every step and every element of that [the pension credits] was reviewed and reviewed under the prior comptroller," he said in an interview yesterday. "I have no idea what they are thinking. They were provided with voluminous documentation that went back years and years, but they absolutely ignored it."

Newsday reported in April that D'Agostino had secured a public pension of $106,702 a year based on the retroactive credits -- even though records showed that he had been paid at least $5 million as a private contractor all those years. He also qualified for lifetime health benefits.

About three weeks after the story, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli suspended the pension. On Tuesday, DiNapoli said in a statement that D'Agostino's case was one of the "most egregious" his office has found and called his actions "unacceptable."

The comptroller's office ordered D'Agostino to pay back $605,874.79. That amount, based on money he has collected since retiring in October 2000, is the largest refund the comptroller's office has sought since beginning its review of the pension system in April, said Emily DeSantis, a spokeswoman for DiNapoli. The office has sought refunds from six others.

Also yesterday, Nassau County Comptroller Howard Weitzman said he would seek to recoup an additional $103,669 the county paid in pension contributions for D'Agostino, as well as the $89,000 it paid in health benefits since 1999.

"His eligibility for health insurance was based on an outrageous claim that for 21 years when he was an independent contractor for the county, it really was all a mistake and he was an employee," Weitzman said.

D'Agostino, 64, obtained the retroactive credits under laws passed in 1993 and 2000 that allow public employees who meet certain criteria to get additional pension credits. The laws were intended to help public employees such as veterans or mothers returning to the workforce.

In granting the credits, the state comptroller's office, which was then under Carl McCall, relied on letters from two prominent people connected with the Nassau planning commission -- Howard Blankman and Herb Libert. Libert died in 2005, and Blankman said in an earlier interview that he was unaware D'Agostino used the letter to get retroactive pension credits.

The office also relied on D'Agostino's 1099 statements, which are federal tax forms used for independent contractors, not employees.

The state attorney general's office is investigating the D'Agostino case.

McCall has said he did not recall the case, but that he "vigorously opposed" granting pensions to people who did not deserve them.

He was reported as an employee of the Nassau County Planning Commission, the Hempstead Public Employment Relations Board, the village of Valley Stream and the North Merrick, Lawrence and Valley Stream No. 30 school districts.

D'Agostino continued working for the school districts and the Nassau County Planning Commission after he retired, earning nearly $3.5 million in legal fees since 2000, according to data supplied by the comptroller's office.

D'Agostino has represented a number of high-profile clients, including former Sen. Alfonse D'Amato, in his private law practice. A longtime Republican committeeman, he ran unsuccessfully for State Supreme Court in 2000.

Yesterday, D'Agostino said a "political standard" was being used to revoke his pension.

"I do intend to fully and vigorously defend my rights and those of my family," he said.

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