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OpinionEditorial

Send Mangano sexting investigation to D.A.

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano participates in a

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano participates in a debate in Woodbury on Oct. 29, 2013. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Nassau County officials say the investigation into purported sexting between County Executive Edward Mangano and marketing executive Karin Murphy Caro, who has received county contracts, is ongoing. The two vehemently deny the exchanges happened.

What’s becoming even more troubling than the incident itself, however, is the lack of clarity on how the alleged hacking investigation is being handled. It’s time for the entire mess to be turned over to the Nassau County District Attorney.

Mangano initially told a WCBS-TV reporter that his phone was hacked, specifically calling it “spoofing,” which means the message came from a forged address. On Valentine’s Day, the day after the initial report, he said he was filing a “criminal complaint” about the hacking. He now seems to be saying the incriminating messages never happened, that the printouts purporting to show the exchanges are fake.

Mangano’s chief deputy for criminal justice, Chuck Ribando, and Acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter can’t give a straight answer about whether the county executive officially filed a criminal complaint. They can’t even answer a question about what the process of filing a criminal complaint entails.

Why the confusion?

If Mangano signed a statement, and made claims he knows to be false, he most likely committed a crime. If it was a hoax, the trickster may have violated the law. The best way to maintain public confidence in the administration and the police department is for the district attorney to take over this probe to determine whether there are any credible allegations.

Regardless of the outcome on the allegations of sexting, a resolution won’t answer the larger questions about how Nassau County is being run.

Caro got two contracts for public relations, one in 2013 and one in 2014, each for just under $25,000, barely skirting the need for legislative approval. Why has the county been so reliant on these deals? Why can’t the parks department plan its own events? And what are Caro’s “unique” qualifications that justified giving her the work without other bids? County officials say they needed someone with contacts in film, entertainment and marketing. It’s difficult to believe Caro rises to the level of “unique” in those areas.

Now Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos has revealed that the money from a 2013 county fundraiser promoted by Caro, intended to help veterans, went to a private group, Friends of Nassau County Recreation. The county’s records with that group were subpoenaed in October by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District. Many recreation department activities require payment to Friends, but the group’s agreement to operate on behalf of the county expired in 2012. Maragos said he could not determine whether money is missing, even after an audit of Friends, which spends a fortune on vague expenses like “talent” and, in 2013, almost $1 million for “other.” This is all starting to stink.

Taxpayers need to know whether Caro got almost $50,000 because of a personal relationship with the county executive. That is not something his administration can credibly answer.

— The editorial board

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