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Ex-Hempstead town councilman's prison sentence delayed by coronavirus

Edward Ambrosino, Town of Hempstead Councilman charged with

Edward Ambrosino, Town of Hempstead Councilman charged with wire fraud and tax evasion, arrives at Federal Court in Central Islip, May 10, 2017. Credit: Ed Betz

A federal judge has agreed to postpone the date former Hempstead Town Councilman Edward Ambrosino is to surrender to federal prison, citing the former official's fear of contracting the coronavirus, court papers say.

 Ambrosino, who was set to begin serving his six-month sentence for tax evasion at the federal prison at Fort Dix, New Jersey on June 15, will be allowed to surrender three months later on September 15, according to an order signed Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert in Central Islip.

Ambrosino, 55, of North Valley Stream, had initially wanted to serve out his sentence in home confinement because of risk of contracting the virus behind bars, but that request was denied by Seybert in April.

But the judge did offer Ambosino the option of delaying his surrender date.

Ambrosino’s attorney, James Druker, of Garden City, said Wednesday that he had advised Ambrosino to report to prison on the June date because his client should “get it over with.” Also, he said, given the federal prison’s policy of releasing people early in response to the threat of coronavirus his client probably would not have to serve much time.

A number of nonviolent felons have been released early from their sentences in federal prison to home confinement because of the virus’ threat, including former State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, of Rockville Centre.

Druker said, however, Ambrosino, in favoring the delay, “had legitimate concerns because of his history of pneumonia, and didn’t want to take a chance” on contracting the virus in prison.

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The federal prosecutor in the Ambrosino case, Eastern District Assistant United States Attorney Catherine Mirabile, did not object to the delay, according to court papers.

Ambrosino was sentenced to the six months in prison, along with three years of supervised release and restitution of more than $900,000 after pleading guilty to a single count of tax evasion that was part of a complex scheme, prosecutors said.

The former councilman had faced 24 to 30 months in prison under federal sentencing guidelines, but Seybert said “I’m giving you a substantial break” because she didn’t think a longer sentence was necessary for punishment.

Ambrosino, a protégé of Nassau Republicaj leader Joseph Cairo and a longtime friend and business partner of former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, resigned his seat on the Hempstead Town Council in April, 2019.

Ambrosino was initially appointed to the council in 2003, after serving as counsel to the Republican majority on the Nassau County Legislature.

The tax count Ambrosino pleaded guilty to involved his only reporting earnings of $369,000 in 2013, paying taxes of $103,000, while he also made an additional $315,000.

Ambrosino was originally charged with a scheme that went on for a number of years, including failing to pass on money to his law firm he made working for two county agencies, and claiming business expenses for a rental apartment in Manhattan for an unidentified third party that he knew “were not business expenses,” federal prosecutors said.

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