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Former Nassau Democratic power broker Gerard Terry released from prison

Former North Hempstead Democratic Party leader Gerard Terry

Former North Hempstead Democratic Party leader Gerard Terry walks outside federal court in Central Islip in October 2017. Credit: James Carbone

Gerard Terry, a longtime power broker in the Nassau County Democratic Party, has become the second prominent Long Island politician to be released this week from a federal prison amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to federal records.

Terry, 65, of Roslyn Heights, had been serving a 3-year sentence at the federal prison at Fort Dix in New Jersey, for evading $1.4 million in taxes and was due to be released in December 2020, the records say. He was released to home confinement to complete his sentence, according to several sources familiar with the case.

A public posting Wednesday on the federal Bureau of Prison website said Terry had been released under a national program in which inmates are released before their sentences are completed to halfway houses or, in some cases, to home confinement. But sources said the release was expedited because of the attempt to decrease the federal prison population to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

A man who answered a cellphone listed in Terry’s name Wednesday said he was not Terry but declined to comment further.

John Marzulli, a spokesman for the Eastern District U.S. Attorney’s Office, which prosecuted the Terry case, declined to comment.

On Tuesday former New York State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos was released early to home confinement from the federal prison in Otisville because he had tested positive for the coronavirus.

In Terry’s case, he was listed Wednesday in the Bureau of Prison records as being released to RRM New York, which stands for Residential Reentry Management in the metropolitan area.

The RRM system is designed to help prisoners nearing the end of their sentences — usually the last six months or so — to technically remain in federal custody but to transition gradually back to civilian life outside prison.

For example, a prisoner in the system could be allowed to leave the halfway house or his residence for work but would have to return there afterward and would have to meet a curfew and other conditions.

But the system varies, and at times the release conditions can be more stringent. The conditions of the release under the RRM system are not public.

The halfway house usually used by released prisoners from Long Island is in Brooklyn.   

The sources said Terry probably would have been released shortly in any event because his eligibility for release to an RRM program had been approaching.

Terry ran election campaigns for Democratic candidates in Nassau County and was a former leader of the North Hempstead Democratic Party.

While doing so, Terry held as many as six public jobs that earned him more than $200,000 a year. But in pleading guilty to tax evasion in federal court in October 2017, Terry admitted he had not paid almost all the taxes he owed for at least 15 years.

Among the jobs Terry held were; attorney for the Democratic commissioner of the Nassau County Board of Elections, the North Hempstead Board of Zoning Appeals, the Freeport Community Development Agency, the Roosevelt Library Board, the Long Beach Housing Authority, the Village of Port Washington North and the Village of Manorhaven, and counsel to the North Hempstead town attorney.

Terry created a complicated scheme to prevent the IRS from seizing any of his assets for nonpayment, according to officials. Parts of the scheme included cashing checks for hundreds of thousands of dollars he received in wages and other forms of compensation and not depositing the money in bank accounts; depositing only a minimum of cash in bank accounts to cover routine expenses and luxury purchases; and creating a checking account in the name of fictitious person, officials said.

Terry attributed his tax evasion to “a cascading series of serious” health problems.

Federal prosecutors said that while Terry was concealing his income, he used the money to pay for luxury clothing, high-end electronics and overseas trips.