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FBI subpoenas Suffolk board of elections worker's time sheets, personnel records

Michael Torres leaves his job at the Board

Michael Torres leaves his job at the Board of Elections in Yaphank, Sept. 12, 2014. Credit: Ed Betz

A former high-ranking Suffolk County Board of Elections employee's time-sheet and personnel records have been subpoenaed by the FBI, county sources said Wednesday.

Michael E. Torres, the Suffolk Conservative Party's secretary, is the subject of the subpoena, which also called for overtime and vacation requests as well as per-diem slips, according to a Suffolk Board of Elections official. The FBI wanted all records dating back to when Torres started at the board in 2007, that official said.

A package of more than 100 documents was mailed Wednesday to the FBI office in Melville, the official said.

Torres was fired Oct. 2 from his position as a senior assistant commissioner after his party made a deal with Democrats last month to endorse two Democrats for judgeships instead of GOP-chosen candidates, a longtime Conservative committeeman said at the time. The Democrats chose as their candidate Conservative Howard Heckman, Torres' future father-in-law.

Republican Bill Ellis, the Smithtown GOP party boss who was a deputy commissioner at the elections board, was also fired that day, said the committeeman, Michael O'Donohoe. Misconduct complaints had also been filed at the board against the two, including for political bullying toward other elections employees during working hours, sources have said.

While most of the board's roughly 120 employees use punch cards to keep track of time worked, those in top positions -- commissioners, deputy commissioners, senior assistant commissioners, assistant commissioners and elections administrators -- fill out time sheets by hand in ink every four weeks, the source said. Ellis' signature was on most of Torres' time sheets approving them, the official said.

Torres -- the highest-ranking minority party elections employee in Suffolk history -- denied knowledge of the subpoena. "I don't have any clue about that," he said. His attorney, William Keahon, also said he did not know about the subpoena.

"The government definitely has every right to do that," Keahon said. "I'm quite confident they're going to find everything was done in order and everything was done properly."

Keahon is representing Torres, 42, in an open criminal case where he has pleaded not guilty to a felony charge of offering a false instrument for filing. Torres allegedly concealed criminal convictions on an application for a seat on the Islip Town Board of Assessment Review, where he checked the "no" box when asked if he had ever been convicted of "any crime" -- felony or misdemeanor. He has two misdemeanor convictions -- for gambling in 1997 and driving without a valid license in 2002.

Torres, who held the Islip Conservative Party chief's role since 2010 after Suffolk Conservative Party chairman Edward M. Walsh Jr. handed it off to him, resigned from that position and the town assessment seat after moving from East Islip to the Brookhaven Town hamlet of Eastport in late May.

Ellis did not return a request for comment.

With Rick Brand


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