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Long IslandSuffolk

Suffolk DA to review request for probe of lobbying

Joseph Conway is a long-time prosecutor on Long

Joseph Conway is a long-time prosecutor on Long Island. (Aug. 18, 2010) Photo Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

The Suffolk County district attorney said Wednesday he would review a request by some public officials to investigate whether there was unspecified "wrongdoing" in the lobbying before a vote by the County Legislature to hire a special counsel to oversee its investigation of the county Ethics Commission.

The legislature's presiding officer, William Lindsay (D-Holbrook), said after the 13-5 vote Tuesday approving the hiring of attorney Joseph Conway that he was referring lobbying efforts against the naming of a special counsel to Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota.

Wednesday, Spota released a statement saying: "I have received requests to initiate investigations into purported wrongdoing by one or more public officials. The matters are under review." Spota's spokesman did not respond to calls and an e-mail seeking more details.

Aides to Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy said he had done nothing improper in his lobbying effort against the appointment of Conway. A Levy spokesman, Dan Aug, said Tuesday the hiring was "wasteful and unnecessary."

Wednesday, Aug said the request for an investigation by the district attorney's office was "more partisan nonsense from agenda-driven legislators." He said Levy has told legislators that their own disclosure forms should be examined as well as the county executive's. "That is not a threat, it is a call for fairness," he said.

Lindsay has said a focus of the investigation will be the Ethics Commission's decision that Levy, a member of the state Pine Barrens Commission, could file a state financial disclosure form instead of the county disclosure form used by most other county employees.

In an interview Wednesday, Levy said a letter saying he could file the state form in place of the local form was signed by the commission's executive director, Alfred Lama.

The appointment of Conway was criticized Wednesday by some county legislators, who said they were not aware during their questioning of Conway at Tuesday's legislature meeting that his Mineola law firm, LaRusso & Conway, had done consulting work for the failed re-election campaign last year of then-Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi, a Democrat.

Records show the firm was paid $6,200 for unspecified consulting work. Conway said Wednesday he did "legal work" for the campaign, but refused to discuss details. Suozzi spokesman Bruce Nyman declined to comment.

"That was exactly the sort of information I would have wanted to question Mr. Conway about," Legis. Louis D'Amaro (D-North Babylon) said Wednesday. D'Amaro voted against the hiring of a special counsel.

Lindsay said in an interview Wednesday he was not aware that Conway had worked for the Suozzi campaign. He added, "I don't see how it's pertinent."

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