Is NYC looking at the Coliseum as a temporary shelter for migrants?
Don’t want a casino at the Nassau Hub?
How about temporary, congregate-style housing for asylum-seekers who’ve come to New York from border states like Texas?
New York City is apparently eyeing Nassau Coliseum as a potential site for some of the thousands of people who’ve been traveling to the city via bus from Texas and elsewhere, and need a place to stay.
And the Coliseum leaseholder says he’s interested.
The city put out a request for proposals for “humanitarian and emergency response and relief centers” — open to facilities across the state — late last year. Sources tell The Point that during a recent meeting with officials and advocates from across the state, city officials mentioned the Coliseum as an example of the kind of site that would work best to meet the need. And city officials told the meeting participants any deal with the RFP winners would be “lucrative.”
So perhaps it’s no surprise that Nick Mastroianni II, who holds the Coliseum lease, is intrigued.
The RFP comes as Las Vegas Sands executives have announced plans to bid for a casino license at the Nassau Hub. That would require the Nassau County Legislature to approve the transfer of the lease on the Coliseum from Mastroianni to Sands.
In a statement to The Point, Mastroianni noted that using the Coliseum for emergency housing isn’t his first choice.
“It is our hope that the county will approve the lease transfer to Sands to develop a transformational world-class resort,” Mastroianni said. “Were the county to decline our lease transfer, however, we would be looking at all options, including this RFP.”
Since taking on the arena lease, Mastroianni said his company has suffered “losses for us that amount to tens of millions of dollars,” due to COVID-19, the new UBS Arena at Belmont Park, and “a recession in everything but official recognition.”
“We would be committing business malpractice for us not to consider the current RFP that seeks safe, appropriate space for emergency housing,” Mastroianni said in the statement.
The Coliseum lease seems to allow the arena to be used for such housing. The lease says the arena must be used for “any purpose or purposes which … provide for the benefit of the people of the County and surrounding areas within the region.” And, Mastroianni noted, the Coliseum already has been designated by Nassau County as a safe haven and emergency evacuation center in the event of storms or other severe weather.
A county spokesman did not immediately return requests for comment.
Responses to the RFP are due no later than March 3. That could be right around the time the Nassau County Legislature will be ready to evaluate and vote on the lease transfer.
Perhaps Mastroianni is betting that area residents — and county lawmakers — would prefer a casino to any housing at the Hub.
— Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall
DA says PPP loan in Diana Zeldin’s name was identity theft
For more than a year, former House member and GOP gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin has been hounded on social media with accusations that a fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program loan taken out in his wife’s maiden name actually did benefit the Zeldins.
The loan, for $20,208, was taken out under the name of Diana Gadish, and used the family’s address and her personal information, including address and date of birth.
In December 2021, Diana Zeldin filed a police report with the Suffolk County Police Department on the identity theft, and Lee Zeldin says the couple also reported the fraud to the Small Business Administration. The loan had been approved on April 18 of that year.
But he hadn’t heard anything since, and he said he rarely even was aware of the political opponents trying to make hay with the issue by constantly retweeting stories and accusations related to it.
Now Zeldin shared with The Point a letter from the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office that included ample proof that the money was stolen and concluded:
“A thorough investigation into this report has confirmed that Mrs. Zeldin is the victim of a theft of her personal identification information in order to apply for and receive the PPP loan from Harvest Small Business Finance. There is no evidence that Mrs. Zeldin received any money in relation to this loan, nor did she provide any permission or authorization for anyone to use her personal identification information to obtain a PPP loan.”
The letter was signed by Assistant District Attorney Jessica Lighthouse, of the DA’s Financial Crimes Bureau.
Evidence the letter cited included records from Charter Communications, T-Mobile, and Horizon that showed multiple IP addresses outside the state being used to deal with the loan applications, distribution of the money via a Green Dot debit card that does not require a bank account, and a complete lack of any connection to the Zeldins. According to the letter, the one IP address that was identified as “local” was traced to a Brooklyn apartment building “where the origin of that electronic communication is unclear.”
As for any impact on their lives, Lee Zeldin told The Point Monday that aside from having to fill out the police and SBA reports, they had not really been impacted. The couple has not been the victim of any further theft, nor have they received any information on who might have committed the theft.
— Lane Filler @lanefiller
Thin blue flatline
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Marks' client list
Nancy Marks and George Santos are parting ways.
FEC filings posted Tuesday showed the freshman Republican’s longtime campaign treasurer resigning from various Santos-affiliated committees, “as of January 25, 2023.”
“At the request of the FEC, I am submitting this Form 99 stating that I have resigned as treasurer,” Marks wrote in the documents.
It was a somewhat expected outcome given the close scrutiny on Santos’ campaign finance filings and Marks’ role in some questionable practices. Santos’ campaign recently claimed that it had engaged a new Wisconsin-based treasurer, Thomas Datwyler, but his lawyer says Datwyler has actually turned down the job.
Santos became a lucrative and time-consuming client for Marks, a veteran political professional from Shirley. But Marks also has served — and continues to serve — as treasurer for a wide swath of political committees. That includes 90 candidates, political action committees, and political groups on the New York State-level for whom she is the current treasurer, according to Board of Election records requested by The Point.
Those records show Marks’ treasurer service for Lee Zeldin and the Rise Ny Pac run by Santos’ sister, both of which have received attention in recent weeks.
But she also fills the campaign role for a host of recent Suffolk politicians such as Huntington Town Supervisor Ed Smyth, DA hopeful Ray Perini, and Amos Goodman, a former East Hampton Town Republican Party Chairman who was sentenced in 2021 in connection with forging signatures on nominating petitions submitted to the Board of Elections. Marks has been treasurer for wider political groups such as the Suffolk County Restaurant & Tavern Assoc., the New York State Bail Bondsmen Association, and New York State Republican Latino Committee PACs.
The records show some interesting clients, including the residency-challenged Assembly campaign of Lester Chang and the onetime Queens DA campaign of Santos’ current personal attorney Joe Murray. And despite her Republican background, Marks is the treasurer of record for Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, who is a registered Democrat but has also been a Republican, blank, and Independence Party member.
“I’m not running for anything at the moment so there isn’t much activity in my account,” Schneiderman texted The Point, adding that he hadn’t spoken with Marks in some time.
— Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano