Armand D'Amato, left, and his brother, former Sen. Alfonse D'Amato.

Armand D'Amato, left, and his brother, former Sen. Alfonse D'Amato. Credit: Bill Senft, Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Daily Point

The D’Amato connection

Once again, all roads at the Nassau Hub lead back — albeit indirectly — to a familiar name:


As Nassau County fought Hofstra University’s attempt to stop the county’s lease deal with Las Vegas Sands — and now, as the county appeals a ruling by state Supreme Court Judge Sarika Kapoor that would have voided the lease — Nassau has been represented by high-profile outside attorney Robert J. Giuffra Jr.

Giuffra has represented the county in the case since the spring, after Hofstra first sued. An attorney with legal powerhouse Sullivan & Cromwell, Giuffra has a long record of high-profile experience representing everyone from Volkswagen in its excess-emissions scandal to UBS in cases related to Enron and the financial crisis.

But locally, perhaps Giuffra’s best-known case is his defense of attorney and lobbyist Armand D’Amato, brother to former U.S. Sen. Alfonse D’Amato. Giuffra won the appeal that led to the overturning of the conviction on mail fraud charges of Armand D’Amato, who was accused of engaging in a billing scheme to deceive top executives from Unisys Corp. and conceal his lobbying efforts on behalf of his brother.

Whether Giuffra has the same success for Nassau County remains to be seen. A county spokesman did not return calls to confirm how much Giuffra is being paid.

But there is much irony in the small world of Nassau County politics: The Hofstra case might never have happened had the D’Amato brothers’ initial connections to the Hub materialized.

Sen. D’Amato, after all, was the person who convinced Charles Wang to buy the New York Islanders, who at the time played in Nassau Coliseum at the Hub. And after Wang proposed the $3.8 billion Lighthouse Project for the Hub area more than 15 years ago, Sen. D’Amato asked Wang to put Armand on the Lighthouse payroll.

Wang, who sought to keep politics out of the project, gave a simple answer: No.

In the end, the Town of Hempstead stopped the project, refusing to approve the zoning changes that would have allowed the project to be built. Political observers have long thought that Wang’s decision led Al D’Amato to make sure Lighthouse didn’t move forward. At one point, Sen. D’Amato even told a Republican fundraiser that Lighthouse would turn Nassau into the sixth borough of New York City.

Meanwhile, had Armand D’Amato been part of the Lighthouse team, the theory goes, he could have helped push it through.

So, had Wang said yes, perhaps the Hub would currently be home to a new arena, thousands of units of housing, and a million square feet of office space, as the Lighthouse Project had proposed.

In that alternate reality, most likely Sands would be vying to build a casino somewhere else — and there’d be no Hofstra University v. Nassau County Planning Commission court case for Giuffra to appeal.

— Randi F. Marshall

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