Supervisor Venditto and others allegedly orchestrated the firing of town employee
MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced that former Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto, former Parks Commissioner Frank Nocerino and Richard Porcelli, the deputy executive leader of a political club, were arraigned today on charges related to the illegal hiring and firing of a town employee.
John Venditto, 68, of Massapequa, was arraigned today before Supreme Court Justice Charles Wood and charged with Corrupt Use of Position or Authority (an E felony), three counts of Official Misconduct (an A misdemeanor) and Conspiracy in the Sixth Degree (a B misdemeanor). If convicted of the top count, the defendant faces up to 1-1/3 years to four years in prison.
Richard Porcelli, 70, of Ronkonkoma, the deputy executive leader of the North Massapequa Republian Club was arraigned today before Supreme Court Justice Charles Wood and charged with two counts of Official Misconduct (an A misdemeanor) and Conspiracy in the Sixth Degree (a B misdemeanor). If convicted of the top count, Porcelli faces up to a year in prison.
Frank Nocerino, 65, of Massapequa, was arraigned today before Supreme Court Justice Charles Wood and charged with Official Misconduct (an A misdemeanor). If convicted, Nocerino faces up to a year in prison.
The defendants pleaded not guilty and are due back in court on September 26. They were released on their own recognizance.
“Former Supervisor Venditto and his associates are charged with corruptly orchestrating the hiring of a town employee at an inflated salary and firing him months later at Frederick Ippolito’s self-serving request,” said DA Singas. “Taxpayers are victimized when public employment is abused to advance the personal interests of the powerful.”
DA Singas said after the federal conviction of Town of Oyster Bay Commissioner of Planning Development Frederick Ippolito on tax evasion, Ippolito continued to exercise influence over town matters.
According to the indictment, Supervisor Venditto directed Parks Commissioner Nocerino to hire Individual B to work in the town Parks Department at the behest of Ippolito. Venditto directed the hiring of Individual B even though the town was not hiring new employees and openly discussing laying off existing employees because of a financial crisis. Nocerino knew that hiring Individual B was wrong for the above reasons, as well as others, including that Individual B was to be paid more than twice the appropriate salary for his position. Months later, Ippolito directed that Individual B be fired. Venditto and Richard Porcelli – deputy executive leader of the North Massapequa Republican Club and close associate of the supervisor – agreed to fire Individual B and that the Town of Oyster Bay would fire other employees to divert attention from the firing of Individual B.
Individual B was paid more than other employees and was instructed not to discuss his terms of employment. Months later, Ippolito directed that Individual B be fired. Venditto and Richard Porcelli – deputy executive leader of the North Massapequa Republican Club and close associate of the supervisor – agreed to fire Individual B and that the Town of Oyster Bay would fire other employees to divert attention from the firing of Individual B.
Executive Assistant District Attorney Charles Testagrossa, Deputy Chief Christine Maloney and Senior Assistant District Attorney Jesse Aviram of DA Singas’ Public Corruption Bureau are prosecuting the case with the assistance of NCDA Chief Investigator Joshua Genn and Investigator Gavin Shea, and Deputy Chief Daniel Bresnahan and Senior Assistant District Attorney Hilda Mortensen of DA Singas’ Appeals Bureau.
The NCDA thanks former Chief Investigator Daniel Rizzo for his assistance in this investigation.
Venditto is represented by Mark Agnifilo, Esq., Porcelli is represented by Frank Casale, Esq. and Nocerino is represented by Christopher Devane, Esq.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless found guilty.
MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced today that the owners of a prominent Long Island paving company have been indicted for bribing an Oyster Bay commissioner to help facilitate the construction of the Cantiague Commons senior housing development.
Elia “Aly” Lizza, 69, and his wife, Marisa Lizza, 61, of Oyster Bay Cove, are charged with 14 counts of Bribery in the 2nd Degree (a C felony), five counts of Bribery in the 3rd Degree (a D felony), 18 counts of Rewarding Official Misconduct in the 2nd Degree (an E felony), two counts of Defrauding the Government (an E felony) and Conspiracy in the 5th Degree (an A misdemeanor). If convicted on the top count, Elia and Marisa Lizza face up to five to 15 years in prison.
Carlo Lizza & Sons Paving, Inc. – owned by the Lizza family – is charged with five counts of Bribery in the 2nd Degree (a C felony), Bribery in the 3rd Degree (a D felony), four counts of Rewarding Official Misconduct in the 2nd Degree (an E felony), two counts of Defrauding the Government (an E felony) and Conspiracy in the 5th Degree (an A misdemeanor).
John Venditto, 72, of Massapequa, is charged with two counts of Defrauding the Government (E felony), two counts of Official Misconduct (an A misdemeanor) and Conspiracy in the 5th Degree (an A misdemeanor). If convicted of the top count, Venditto faces up to 1-1/3 years to four years in prison.
Frank Antetomaso, 77, of Massapequa, is charged with Conspiracy in the 5th Degree (an A misdemeanor). Antetomaso faces up to a year in prison if convicted.
The defendants surrendered to NCDA Investigators this morning and were arraigned before Supreme Court Justice Charles Wood. They pleaded not guilty and are due back in court on September 26. They were released on their own recognizance.
“Our investigation into a dubious Oyster Bay real estate deal revealed evidence of bribery, money laundering, illegal favors, and inadequate oversight in town government,” DA Singas said. “The Town Supervisor allegedly turned over the keys to town government to an unelected self-dealer, and the charged conduct marks an outrageous betrayal of the public trust.”
DA Singas said that according to the indictment, Marisa Lizza and Elia Lizza - President of Carlo Lizza & Sons Paving, Inc, - wrote approximately $1.6 million worth of checks from 2009 to 2016 from personal accounts to Frederick Ippolito, who was serving as Commissioner of Planning and Development for the Town of Oyster Bay.
Elia and Marisa Lizza made these payments to Ippolito for his role in negotiating anticipated payments in excess of $20 million dollars to Elia Lizza from the developer of Cantiague Commons while Ippolito was simultaneously controlling the oversight of the developer’s rezoning application and site plan approval.
The property, zoned for light industrial, was to become Cantiague Commons, a $150 million residential housing complex for seniors.
To be developed, Cantiague Commons needed the approval of the Town of Oyster Bay Town Board to grant an application to rezone the property for residential use. As the Commissioner of Planning and Development, Ippolito had substantial control and influence over any potential real estate developments within the town.
In order to further facilitate the Cantiague Commons deal, Ippolito negotiated the sale of 50 Engel Street to the Town of Oyster Bay.
Carlo Lizza & Sons Paving, Inc., under a special use permit issued by the town more than 30 years ago, operated an asphalt plant at 50 Engel Street in Hicksville, near the proposed Cantiague Commons project. The town would not approve the re-zoning application for Cantiague Commons given the proximity to the asphalt plant.
In 2011, a combination of Lizza entities offered to donate the 50 Engel Street property to the Town of Oyster Bay. Despite the offer, Supervisor Venditto agreed that the town would purchase the property for $2.5 million.
When questions arose about the propriety of the payments, Venditto worked with outside counsel for the Town of Oyster Bay to create a document that suggested there was no conflict of interest and any benefit secured by Elia Lizza was achieved through legitimate means.
Ippolito allegedly used town employees and resources to draft and edit agreements among Elia Lizza and other family members. Ippolito and Venditto advocated to the town board on behalf of Elia Lizza in connection with the subject application, and concealed Ippolito’s financial interest in the Cantiague Commons project.
On December 18, 2012, the town board conditionally granted the re-zoning application pending the environmental remediation of both the Cantiague Commons site and 50 Engel Street. Venditto represented that the development of the project and the purchase of 50 Engel Street were integrally related. The town board was advised that the money for the purchase of Engel Street would not be released until the property was “cleaned up to satisfaction.”
On or about November 7, 2013, the Town of Oyster Bay purchased the 50 Engel Street site for $2.5 million even though the property had not been satisfactorily cleaned. The owner of the property immediately issued a payment to Carlo Lizza and Sons Paving, Inc. in the amount of $1,476,676.
Even though the property was not fully remediated from environmental contaminants and the full extent of the environmental contamination was unknown, Venditto signed a contract of sale that limited the seller’s liability to $100,000 for any environmental issues that arose on the property. To date, the property has not been developed or used by the town.
According to the indictment, Ippolito gave his recommendation to the Board to approve the rezoning of the property on West John Street in Hicksville while failing to disclose to the Board his financial interest in Cantiague Commons. Ippolito allegedly worked closely with Lizza family members and their contractors to develop Cantiague Commons in order to ensure that Elia Lizza received in excess of $20 million dollars.
Ippolito failed to report the payments from the Lizza family, as well as additional payments which pre-dated his TOB employment, to the Internal Revenue Service and he was indicted in March 2015.
Once Ippolito was indicted by a federal grand jury, Elia Lizza and Ippolito ceased communicating directly. Frank Antetomaso – a former Town of Oyster Bay official and principal of engineering firm Sidney Bowne that was working on the Cantiague Commons project – allegedly passed messages between Ippolito and Elia Lizza. Antetomaso allegedly knew that Ippolito had a financial stake in Cantiague Commons and helped facilitate and conceal alleged criminal conduct by Ippolito and Elia Lizza.
According to the indictment, the payments to Ippolito originated from a Carlo Lizza & Sons bank account and were then sent through the personal checking account of Aly and Marisa Lizza before they were made to Ippolito.
Furthermore, after Ippolito was indicted, the Lizzas allegedly concealed two more payments to Ippolito by writing checks for snow removal services to a snow removal company wholly owned by Ippolito. According to the indictment, these payments were not for snow removal services.
Ippolito pleaded guilty on January 26, 2016 to one count of Tax Evasion in federal court for tax year 2008 and was sentenced to 27 months’ imprisonment on September 28, 2016.
Elia Lizza is represented by John Carman, Esq., Marisa Lizza is represented by Marc Gann, Esq. Carlo Lizza and Sons Paving, Inc. is represented by John Carman, John Venditto is represented by Mark Agnifilo, Esq. and Frank Antetomaso is represented by Nancy Bartling, Esq.
MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced that a former Town of Oyster Bay Commissioner of Public Works and a current Town of Oyster Bay Highway Maintenance supervisor were arraigned today on grand jury indictment charges of Official Misconduct and Theft of Services.
Frank Antetomaso, 77, of Massapequa, and his nephew Salvatore Cecere, 50, of West Sayville, were arraigned today before Supreme Court Justice Charles Wood and charged with one count each of Official Misconduct and Theft of Services (A misdemeanors).
The defendants pleaded not guilty and are due back in court on September 26. They were released on their own recognizance. If convicted on the top count, the defendants face a maximum sentence of one year in prison.
“The average Oyster Bay taxpayer would have to personally pay for tree removal and sidewalk repairs, but these defendants allegedly abused their authority to provide free services to a connected friend,” DA Singas said. “Government officials should never use public resources to do favors for friends and cronies, and we will hold these defendants accountable for this abuse.”
DA Singas said that in July 2016, the Oyster Bay Town Board voted to end a program that subsidized homeowner’s costs to replace damaged sidewalks. Under the program, Oyster Bay paid an outside vendor to replace sidewalks at the request of property owners, reducing property owner’s costs by 75%. When the town board ended the program, it enacted a new local law that assigned responsibility for sidewalk repairs solely to the owner of the abutting property. If a homeowner failed to repair a sidewalk after being issued a notice to do so by the town, the town would repair the sidewalk and then issue a bill to the homeowner.
On August 19, 2016, Frank Antetomaso – a former town Commissioner of Public Works and current principal of Sidney Bowne & Son, an engineering firm with Town of Oyster Bay contracts – was at the home of a longtime friend on Greenwood Drive in North Massapequa.
While at the location, Antetomaso called his nephew, Salvatore Cecere, a Town of Oyster Bay Highway Maintenance supervisor. A conversation between Antetomaso and Cecere was intercepted by the NCDA pursuant to a court-authorized eavesdropping warrant.
Antetomaso informed Cecere that there is a dead tree in front of his friend’s home and it caused damage to the sidewalk. Antetomaso allegedly asked Cecere if the Town would perform the repair work. Cecere allegedly stated that the sidewalk program ended, but he would take care of the repair as a favor if Antetomaso provided him with the address.
Antetomaso gave the information to Cecere and in October 2016, Town of Oyster Bay employees, under Cecere’s direction, removed the dead tree in front of the Greenwood Drive address and replaced the sidewalk in front of the home. The homeowner was not billed for this work.
The defendants surrendered this morning to NCDA investigators.
Antetomaso is charged in a separate indictment unsealed today with Conspiracy in the 5th Degree (an A misdemeanor).
Deputy Chief Christine Maloney and Senior Assistant District Attorney Jesse Aviram of DA Singas’ Public Corruption Bureau are prosecuting the case.
Antetomaso is represented by Nancy Bartling, Esq. and Cecere is represented by Joseph Ferri, Esq.