The embattled Islip Town Conservative Party chairman, who is charged with concealing criminal convictions on his application for a position on a town board, has resigned his post after moving to Brookhaven, local political leaders confirmed.
Michael E. Torres, 42, also resigned from his seat on the Islip Town Board of Assessment Review. He submitted letters of resignation on May 26 for both positions, which require residency within the town, Torres said. He moved from East Islip to Eastport around that same time, he said.
"I've got family out that way and wanted to be closer" to them, Torres said in a phone interview.
John Flynn, of Islip Terrace, who has been involved with the Islip Conservative Party for about 10 years, is now its acting chairman. Flynn is a retired New York City firefighter who was injured on Sept. 11, 2001, he said, and also serves on the East Islip Public Library board of trustees and is the security director in the East Islip school district. He declined to discuss the nature of that injury.
Newsday has reported that Torres, on his application for the Board of Assessment Review, concealed two misdemeanor criminal convictions for promoting gambling in 1997 and driving without a license in 2002 in Virginia. On Nov. 5, six weeks after the Newsday story, Torres was charged by the Suffolk County district attorney's office with offering a false instrument for filing, a class E felony that carries a maximum of 1 1/3 to 4 years in state prison. He has pleaded not guilty and is due back in court July 17, according to court records.
The Islip Conservative Party became mired in the controversy surrounding how an estimated 50,000 tons of contaminated debris ended up illegally dumped in the town-owned Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood.
Six men -- including two officials in the town's parks department, former parks Commissioner Joseph J. Montuori Jr. and his former secretary Brett A. Robinson, who are Conservative Party members -- were indicted on charges related to their alleged roles in the dumping. Torres was consulted on the dumping at the park, Newsday has reported. He was not charged in the dumping case.
Flynn said he is "not the least bit concerned" about taking the helm in the wake of the dumping scandal. He said he stands behind Montuori, who is president of the East Islip library board, and he also supports Torres and Robinson.
"The Conservative Party itself did not do it," Flynn said of the dumping. "The people who did the dumping should be held accountable."
In the interview, Torres said he will remain in his position as the secretary to the Suffolk County Conservative Party. He said the dumping and his arrest "has nothing to do with" his move out of Islip.
"It was a great time I had in Islip all those years," he said. "I look forward to the next adventure."
After Torres' arrest, the then-town supervisor, Tom Croci, unsuccessfully asked for his resignation from the Board of Assessment Review.
His position on that board paid $7,875 a year, a town spokeswoman said. Torres remains as a senior assistant commissioner at the Suffolk County Board of Elections, earning about $105,800, the latest records available show. After Newsday reported Torres' prior convictions, the Board of Elections introduced an application form and criminal background check for all new hires for the first time in its 35-year history.
Suffolk County Conservative Party Chairman Edward Walsh said Torres "did a great job as party leader" in Islip.
"I think the town will continue to thrive, the Conservative Party will continue to serve its role as fiscal watchdog like it always has," Walsh said.