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Long Beach City Council fills Fagen's seat

Long Beach Councilman Michael Fagen. (Feb. 6, 2012)

Long Beach Councilman Michael Fagen. (Feb. 6, 2012) Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

Eileen Goggin, a Long Beach zoning board member, will fill a void left on the City Council caused by the criminal conviction of former Councilman Michael Fagen, Long Beach officials voted Sunday.

During a special meeting, the City Council unanimously appointed Goggin, a Democrat and local attorney who has served on the zoning board of appeals for a month.

A seat on the five-member council was vacated on Feb. 5 when Fagen was convicted of charges stemming from his collection of more than $15,000 in unemployment benefits while he served on the board. The conviction meant Fagen had to immediately forfeit his seat on the City Council, Long Beach officials said this past week.

The council chose Goggin, 51, a member of the Long Beach Theater Guild and Long Beach Lawyers' Association, in part because of her civic background, city officials said.

Long Beach needs a full complement of council members working on the city's recovery from superstorm Sandy, said Councilman Scott Mandel, who nominated Goggin.

"In this time of recovery, it is critical that we have a full, five-member council in place to tackle the important issues facing the City and our residents," Mandel said in a statement.

The city's statement said Goggin has lived in Long Beach for "more than a decade."

Goggin said she would prioritize rebuilding from Sandy. She is a law secretary in the state's Unified Court System, and served as a deputy Nassau County attorney from 2003 to 2010.

The critical issue facing the council is "the task of rebuilding Long Beach into the city we all know and love," she said in a statement.

The council is led by Mandel, its president. He is the top elected official in the city, which does not have a mayor.

Goggin's appointment leaves the council with four Democrats and one Republican, John McLaughlin, as it had been before Fagen's conviction. However, despite being aligned with the majority party, Fagen was a frequent voice of dissent at city council meetings.

Goggin will fill out the rest of Fagen's term, which ends in November, when city elections are scheduled.

Fagen, a Democrat who was elected in 2009, is due for sentencing on April 8, when he could receive up to 4 years in prison. His attorney, Marc Gann of Mineola, has said the conviction will be appealed.

A Nassau County jury found Fagen guilty of petty larceny and 18 counts of offering a false instrument for filing in a trial that ended Feb. 5. The jury could not reach a verdict on other charges -- grand larceny and 20 counts of offering a false instrument.

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