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Brightwaters trustee admonished for soliciting votes using village email

A Brightwaters trustee violated ethics code by using

A Brightwaters trustee violated ethics code by using village email to solicit votes, officials said. Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

A Brightwaters trustee was admonished by the village board for violating an ethics code when he solicited votes from his village email account the day before last month’s election.

The village board voted 4-0 at its July 1 meeting to publicly enter into the record an admonishment letter against Patrick Fawcett, who on June 17 sent one email addressed to 29 residents asking them to vote for him and two other trustees on his ticket, officials said. Fawcett abstained from last week’s vote.

“I did make a mistake,” Fawcett said Wednesday. “I had done something wrong, I had to admit that. Being there to be admonished, that’s never a comfortable thing. … It was the right thing to do.”

Fawcett and trustees Thomas Zepf and Mary Del Vecchio won their races on June 18. Fawcett and Zepf were running against Reginald Ligonde for the two-year term. Fawcett secured 316 votes, while Zepf took in 320 votes. Ligonde received 208 votes, officials said.

Del Vecchio was unopposed and received 376 votes, officials said. Fawcett was appointed to the board last year by Mayor John Valdini to fill a vacancy after Valdini, then a trustee, was elected mayor.

Ligonde said Wednesday he notified village officials on June 17 of the improper email and wrote in a letter to Valdini and the village board about how Fawcett’s email violated village code that states: “No village of Brightwaters officer or employee shall use Village funds, property or a Village facility for political purposes.”

“I lost. I’m not a brand name in Brightwaters. He was running with two other people,” Ligonde said. “If I would have lost with no controversy, it would have sat better.”

Ligonde said he has filed a complaint with the state attorney general’s office. State officials could not be reached for comment.

At the July 1 meeting, the village attorney, Charles Casolaro, said Fawcett did breach the village ethics code, but added, “There was no intentional violation.”

Valdini called Fawcett’s email an “innocent mistake.”

“It’s on the record. It’s over and done with,” Valdini said. “Trying to make it a bigger issue than it is, is a waste of the village board’s time.”

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