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Dealing in Suffolk

Suffolk Democratic chairman Rich Schaffer in an undated

Suffolk Democratic chairman Rich Schaffer in an undated photo. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

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Daily Point

Torres looking for a landing at OTB

Suffolk Democratic Party chairman Rich Schaffer seems to have finally found a job for Michael Torres, the Conservative Party secretary with a less-than- compelling resume but who is a factor in political endorsement deals.

The path is being cleared for Torres to be hired at Suffolk County Off-Track Betting, a known patronage pit that has been resurrected by the success of its video-lottery-terminal casino in Islandia. The problem for Suffolk OTB president Phil Nolan is that Torres is not likely to pass a state background check because he has a 1997 misdemeanor conviction for promoting gambling. That once stopped him from getting a job with the county sheriff’s department that his mentor, Edward Walsh, the imprisoned former Suffolk Conservative Party chairman, used as a fiefdom.

Torres failed to disclose that conviction in 2013 on a job application for the Islip Board of Reassessment Review, resulting in his arrest a year later and a felony charge for submitting a false statement to the town.

Torres, the former Conservative Party chair for Islip Town, pleaded to a noncriminal violation and left the part-time reassessment gig when he moved out of town. And don’t forget that Torres was fired from his $105,000-a-year job as senior assistant commissioner of the Suffolk County Board of Elections in 2015 in a political feud that also called into question his behavior at the elections board.

So Torres does not have a so-stellar resume, but it’s his 1997 conviction that would disqualify him in the heavily regulated gambling industry. A 2014 Newsday story reported that at the time of his gambling arrest, Torres, who estimated he lost $30,000 to $40,000, wrote in a sworn statement: “I realized that what I was doing was breaking the law but I didn’t think I would get caught.” Torres was initially charged with accepting more than five bets totaling more than $5,000, a felony.

But as Schaffer was putting his judicial deal into effect in the last few weeks, he somehow was motivated to take care of Torres. So Nolan was told to find a spot for Torres, which would please Walsh, who is still playing his cards from prison. Nolan, The Point is told, first balked because he has no love lost for Walsh, stemming from a political grudge involving his brother, George Nolan. But that’s a whole other story.

Yet, Phil Nolan is finding a way to comply with the request from the Democratic boss, who put him in the lucrative OTB job after he lost the Islip supervisor’s race to Tom Croci, the state senator who has gone missing from Albany in the final weeks of the session.

Interestingly, the request comes at a time when Nolan is trying to reduce the top-heavy OTB payroll by shifting some of its cost to the prosperous casino by giving OTB employees dual roles.

Doesn’t look like that strategy would work for Torres if Nolan has to wall him off from the gambling operation. The Point is still trying to find out when the exciting new job at Suffolk OTB will be posted. Check back.

Rita Ciolli

Talking Point


State Sen. Marty Golden, Republican of Brooklyn, probably wanted to focus on light summer news this week as the legislative session in Albany comes to an end. Yoga coming to Shore Road. Opera in Marine Park. Thank you, Sen. Golden. Instead:

“GOLDEN PARACHUTE: Daredevil state senator skydiving despite collecting $1M in disability for injuries,” blared the Daily News wood on Monday.

Golden had made no secret about his skydiving adventure on May 26 in Shirley. It was a Skydive for Vets event, and Golden posted on Twitter that he gave a $5,000 check to a vets group as part of the high-altitude fundraiser.

But the News pounced on the fact that Golden, an ex-cop, seemed fit enough to make the jump while being out on disability since suffering an injury to his legs while making a narcotics arrest in 1983.

Golden has recently become an easy target for tabloid hits like this. The senator, elected in 2002, is facing more scrutiny from various angles thanks to a more-serious-than-usual challenge from two Democrats hoping to ride a blue wave to defeat the incumbent in November and take control of the chamber.

In December, for example, Golden had a run-in with a biker in which the person driving the senator’s car allegedly disobeyed traffic laws, among other misconduct. The incident resulted in days of coverage and social media uproar. It also dredged up previous traffic incidents, such as when Golden struck a 74-year-old woman with his car in 2005. The woman later died.

There are plenty of other moments from Golden’s long career that might be revisited by an energetic opposition campaign looking to turn this part of moderate Brooklyn blue (this summary includes the time he falsely claimed 9/11 hijackers lived in Bay Ridge).

For his part, Golden saw the News cover in a political light, calling it in a statement an “election year political attack disguised as journalism.”

Mark Chiusano

Pencil Point

Tide’s rising

Quick Points

Family quarrel

  • President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani says Trump could have shot former FBI Director James Comey to end the Russian investigation and not face indictment. That solves one mystery. The person Trump spoke about when he said he could shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue and get away with it . . . was Comey.
  • Facebook has made deals with Apple, Amazon, Samsung and some 60 other device makers to give them access to huge amounts of users’ personal information. And what exactly is the difference between these companies and Cambridge Analytica, the political-data firm hired by the Trump campaign in 2016 — that the other companies had permission from Facebook to use the data without users’ permission?
  • White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said the fallout from U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum exports from Canada is a “family quarrel.” But as with many families, it’s one relative who’s picking the fight.
  • The award for chutzpah goes to Tennessee GOP Sen. Bob Corker, who tweeted: “I am working with like-minded Republican senators on ways to push back on the president using authorities in ways never intended and that are damaging to our country and our allies. Will Democrats join us?” Seems the Democrats founded that club a while ago.
  • Which President Donald Trump Cabinet member got two free tickets and a superfan experience at a University of Kentucky basketball game from a billionaire coal executive aggressively pushing to undo the environmental crackdown on the coal industry by former President Barack Obama? You get three guesses, and the first two don’t count.
  • So it turns out that after the 2016 election of Donald Trump, attorney Michael Cohen told Trump associates that he was going to run for New York City mayor. But he never did challenge Bill de Blasio, depriving the public of a race between the fixer and a guy who can’t fix anything.

Michael Dobie