Two Nassau County agencies fired Hempstead town Councilman Edward Ambrosino from his job as their legal counsel on Tuesday following his arrest last week on federal criminal charges.
The Nassau Industrial Development Agency and Local Economic Assistance Corporation planned to replace Ambrosino, a Republican, with an attorney from the Garden City firm Phillips Lytle, which already does legal work for the agencies, said Alan Wax, a spokesman.
Wax said a specific attorney had yet to be named as of Tuesday evening.
The move came hours after the Nassau County Legislature’s top three Republicans — Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves, Legislator Richard Nicolello and Legislator Howard Kopel — asked the IDA in a letter to “immediately” cancel its contracts with Ambrosino.
And it followed Anthony Santino, the Republican Hempstead town supervisor, calling for Ambrosino to resign from the Town Board.
Both cited Ambrosino’s indictment on eight charges including tax evasion and wire fraud, stemming from allegations that he pocketed more than $800,000 in legal fees from the IDA that should have gone to his law firm. Ambrosino has pleaded not guilty.
“Upon assuming the office of town supervisor, I declared that my administration would have ‘zero tolerance’ for any undertaking or action that conveys even the slightest appearance of impropriety or undermines the people’s trust in their town government,” Santino said in a statement. “That statement was not mere words or empty rhetoric.”
Dennis Lemke, Ambrosino’s attorney, said he was unaware of his firing from the county agencies, but that the councilman will hold his seat representing Floral Park and part of New Hyde Park, among other areas.
“Very simply, at this point my client is steadfast in his innocence and will not be resigning,” Lemke said.
The charges against Ambrosino relate to a “personal tax issue” and contain no allegations of public corruption, Lemke said.
Ambrosino, a North Valley Stream resident, has served on the Town Board since 2003. He has also previously worked as special counsel to Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, a Republican who has pleaded not guilty to federal corruption charges.
Santino on Monday appointed Anthony D’Esposito, another Republican councilman, to replace Ambrosino as his deputy on the Town Board.
The same day, nine GOP county legislators called for Mangano’s resignation hours after his annual State of the County address.
Brian Nevin, a Mangano spokesman, said Ambrosino has not worked for the county for several years and referred questions to the IDA.