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Judge denies Edward Ambrosino's request for home confinement in tax evasion case, court papers show

Former Town of Hempstead Councilman Edward Ambrosino arrives

Former Town of Hempstead Councilman Edward Ambrosino arrives in federal court in Central Islip in May 2017. Credit: Ed Betz

A federal judge denied a request by former Hempstead Town Councilman Edward Ambrosino to serve a sentence for tax evasion at home to avoid contracting coronavirus, court papers says.

U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert in Central Islip ruled on Tuesday that Ambrosino, 55, of North Valley Stream, could postpone — if he wished — serving his 6-month federal prison sentence to September instead of June.

Ambrosino’s attorney, James Druker, of Garden City, said Wednesday that his client had not yet decided whether to accept the delay the judge suggested.

The Ambrosino case is one of the latest legal efforts by defendants to stay out of jails and prisons, citing fears of potential spread of coronavirus within the close confines of the facilities.

Among those who have filed motions to be released because of the coronavirus epidemic are former State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, serving a sentence  for corruption in the federal prison in Otisville, in Orange County; and several hundred detainees, named in a single motion by federal defenders, at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn.

The MDC, as it is known, houses most of the detainees from Long Island awaiting federal criminal court hearings or sentencings. Those detainees are considered at medical risk.

Both Skelos’ appeal and that of the detainees in Brooklyn are pending court action.   

Ambrosino was sentenced to the 6-month federal prison sentence in November after his conviction in a tax scheme.

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In his court papers filed earlier in the week, Ambrosino specifically said he was not asking for a postponement of his sentence, only for home confinement.

Druker said in the papers that he was concerned about his client entering the federal prison system because of what the attorney asserted was “the pandemic sweeping” the institution.

Federal prosecutors objected to Ambrosino’s release to home confinement, but said they had no objection to delaying the start of his prison sentence.

Ambrosino “was convicted of, and sentenced for tax evasion, a serious criminal offense,”  Assistant Eastern District U.S. Attorney Catherine Mirabile, wrote in the papers. Mirabile noted that Ambrosino “fails to identify any underlying medical conditions that would place him ‘at risk’ for developing severe complications from COVID-19.”

Ambrosino resigned from his seat on the Hempstead Town Council in April 2019.

He pleaded guilty in Central Islip last April to a single count of tax evasion on his personal federal income tax as part of a plea deal, in which he agreed to repay $250,000 in back federal taxes. He was charged in April 2017 with what prosecutors said was a complex scheme in which he siphoned off money that his law firm was entitled to.

In a brief statement before his plea, Ambrosino told Seybert that he “knowingly and intentionally” omitted a substantial portion of his income from his personal federal income for 2013.

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