Jim LaCarrubba was appointed on Thursday to lead Suffolk OTB.

Jim LaCarrubba was appointed on Thursday to lead Suffolk OTB. Credit: Barry Sloan

Suffolk OTB has named longtime labor leader and former Long Beach public works chief Jim LaCarrubba to lead the agency as it seeks to expand the successful Jake's 58 video lottery casino in Islandia.

LaCarrubba, 49, a Ronkonkoma Democrat, succeeds Phil Nolan, who is retiring after eight years as Suffolk OTB president, OTB officials said in a news release.

The Suffolk Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. board of directors voted unanimously on Thursday to approve LaCarrubba's appointment as president and chief executive. He will be paid $205,400 annually, officials said.

LaCarrubba, who was named Suffolk OTB's managing director earlier this year, is a veteran Long Island power broker who formerly served as business agent for Communications Workers of America Local 1108 in Patchogue, chief of staff to former Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen, Brookhaven Town deputy highway superintendent and Sachem school board trustee.

In a telephone interview, LaCarrubba said he has spoken to state lawmakers, Jake's 58 owner Delaware North and Islandia Village officials about expanding the casino from its current 1,000 video lottery terminals. The expansion also could include new restaurants, he said.

"I think everyone agrees that if we can bring additional revenue [and] jobs to Suffolk County, it’s a win-win," LaCarrubba said, adding Jake's 58 has 5% of the state's video lottery terminals and generates 10% of the income from those facilities.

The casino expansion, which would require state legislation, could occur either at Jake's 58 or property owned by Suffolk OTB in Medford, LaCarrubba said. Either location could face opposition from Islandia officials or Medford residents.

"We would love to be able to expand where we currently are," LaCarrubba said. "If we can’t, Medford is an option to expand there. ... Our preference is to stay where we are and work it out with the village."

OTB last year held a public scoping session to outline a potential 160,000-square-foot betting operation at the Medford site. Medford residents opposed the plan, citing traffic and other issues.

LaCarrubba was credited with helping Long Beach recover from Superstorm Sandy in 2012 by spearheading public works projects to restore the city's iconic boardwalk.

But he also was linked to a controversy centered on severance pay granted to him and other Long Beach officials.

LaCarrubba left his position in 2016 and was hired back in 2017 as a $39,000 labor relations secretary and a consultant on Sandy projects. In August 2017, his salary increased to $130,000. He was paid at the higher rate for two months until he left the city, for a total payment of $69,779, including a $20,967 retirement payout.

LaCarrubba has said he committed no wrongdoing. A state audit last year found that Long Beach's separation payment policies have been out of compliance for more than 25 years.

Nolan, a former Islip Town supervisor, has agreed to stay with OTB as a management consultant, officials said. He was credited with helping Suffolk OTB escape bankruptcy this year by paying off $17 million in debt that had been owed to creditors before Jake's 58 opened in February 2017.

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