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Details of Oyster Bay case will wait for court hearing

Frederick Ippolito, commissioner of Planning and Development, attends

Frederick Ippolito, commissioner of Planning and Development, attends an Oyster Bay Town Board meeting on Friday, Feb. 3, 2015. Credit: Newsday / Ted Phillips

Town of Oyster Bay planning Commissioner Frederick Ippolito is accused of evading income taxes on $2 million in a federal indictment so sparse that it's best read as a mystery script that's missing its first and last chapters.

Prosecutors say the money was paid to him by Carlo Lizza and Sons Paving Inc., a beneficiary of millions of dollars of state, town and county paving contracts and a generous donor to Republican and Democrat candidates and local political clubs. It is alleged that the Old Bethpage firm and an unidentified principal of the firm representing a Lizza family trust paid Ippolito the money for consulting services from 2008 through 2013. Ippolito, who has denied wrongdoing, is vice chairman of the Nassau Republican Party and a high-profile player in Oyster Bay politics.

While the indictment details Ippolito's town duties, such as supervising the issuance of construction permits, it doesn't draw any connection between his public job and benefits to the Lizza firm. And Ippolito filed annual disclosure forms with the town, which apparently wasn't very concerned about a conflict of interest.

So what did Ippolito, who worked for the town both before and after being employed by Lizza, do to earn the money? Did the town ever question why a top official was getting money from the family of a major town contractor? Supervisor John Venditto dismisses as "politically motivated" questions from a Democratic opponent about what he knew. That may be true, but that doesn't mean he can avoid answering them.

The full story will unfold in a federal courtroom, a tale that may tell whether for some the streets are paved with gold.