‘There is something rotten in the Town of Oyster Bay,” U.S. District Court Judge Leonard Wexler said during a court hearing last year, words that resonated again Tuesday when Town Supervisor John Venditto announced his resignation because he is facing federal charges of official corruption.
Venditto, in his post since 1998, is accused of accepting bribes from restaurateur Harendra Singh, who wanted $20 million in loan guarantees from the town. Singh is also at the center of the case against Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, who is charged with taking illegal payments from Singh in return for county business. Mangano’s wife, Linda Mangano, has been charged in connection with an alleged no-show job from Singh worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. And Nassau’s Chief Deputy County Executive Rob Walker has himself testified that he is under investigation for allegedly awarding county contracts to campaign contributors.
Back to Wexler, who was digging for an explanation for why a town paving contractor paid then-Planning Commissioner Frederick Ippolito $2 million. Wexler got no believable answer, and sentenced Ippolito to 27 months in jail, more than his plea agreement called for. Wexler’s issue wasn’t just Ippolito’s corruption, but the fact that other town elected officials and employees knew of the obvious conflict and never moved to stop or expose it.
Singh heads to trial next week, and Venditto says he’s leaving because he can’t represent the town and work to clear his name at the same time. And Mangano just muddles along.
Soon we might know how rotten things really are in Oyster Bay. Only then will the town be able to rebuild an honest government.
— The editorial board