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OpinionEditorial

How the Nassau DA can prevent corruption

Madeline Singas, Nassau County’s acting district attorney, speaks

Madeline Singas, Nassau County’s acting district attorney, speaks about her new role and new appointments in her office on Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015 in Mineola. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

Now Long Island is in the crosshairs of two federal prosecutors.

What's a local district attorney to do?

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in Manhattan, who recently indicted then-State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, is taking some leads from that case across borders. Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos last week acknowledged that Bharara is investigating him and his son, Adam. Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano confirmed he testified before Bharara's grand jury, which is probing possible conflicts of interest in the awarding in 2013 of a multimillion-dollar contract to AbTech Industries of Arizona for storm-water treatment.

Meanwhile, the federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, who has primary jurisdiction over Nassau and Suffolk, has indicted an Oyster Bay town official on charges of income tax evasion stemming from payments he received from the Island's dominant road-paving company. Previously, U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch indicted Edward Walsh, a correction officer who also is the Suffolk Conservative Party chairman. He is accused of doing party business when he claimed he was working. This is part of a bigger investigation into Gary Melius, the owner of Oheka Castle, and his reach into the Suffolk County judiciary.

After Bharara's probe became public, Nassau acting District Attorney Madeline Singas, who stepped into the job in January after Kathleen Rice went to Congress, announced she is taking a preliminary look at how firms seeking county contracts are vetted. This is not a criminal probe of AbTech Industries but a review of county bidding practices. While local district attorneys have been totally eclipsed by the federal prosecutors in ferreting out official corruption, Singas could make a contribution by highlighting how easy it is for those seeking government business to hide their connections to public officials.

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