Former Hempstead Councilman Edward Ambrosino has been sentenced to six months in prison for tax evasion followed by three years of supervised release, the U.S. attorney’s office said Saturday.
Ambrosino, a Republican whose former district includes the Village of Floral Park and part of New Hyde Park, pleaded guilty to wire fraud and income tax evasion charges in April.
Federal District Judge Joanna Seybert also ordered Ambrosino to pay $700,000 in restitution to a former employer and $254,628 in restitution to the IRS, the U.S. attorney’s office said.
“Ambrosino, a licensed attorney and elected official charged with levying taxes, abused his positions of trust and was himself a tax cheat,” U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue for the Eastern District said. “This is yet another example of a public official on Long Island breaking the law, this time by failing to pay his fair share of taxes like every other citizen.”
As a lawyer, Ambrosino, of North Valley Stream, specialized in economic and industrial development and financing, and formerly was “of counsel” at a law firm based in Uniondale, the U.S. attorney’s office said.
The office said that Ambrosino neglected to report $800,000 out of the $1.3 million he made while working for two government agencies through the Uniondale-based law firm, not named in the indictment, he worked at.
Ambrosino allegedly deposited the $800,000 into a shell company under the name Vanderbilt Bank Account, the U.S. attorney’s office said.
The office also said Ambrosino made false deductions and understated income on his corporate and federal tax returns, skirting more than $245,000 in taxes over three years.
In addition to his law work, Ambrosino served on the Hempstead Town Board representing the 2nd District from March 2003 until his resignation in April after pleading guilty. His position was filled by Thomas Muscarella, who recently won the seat against former Floral Park Mayor Thomas Tweedy.
“It’s hard to ignore another local Republican official betraying the public trust in the Town of Hempstead,” Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen said in a statement.
Gillen said Ambrosino’s conviction for tax evasion is “made more ironic” by the fact that he helped raise taxes by millions of dollars for years under former Supervisors Anthony Santino and Kate Murray, who is now the town clerk-elect.
In 2011, Ambrosino incorporated Vanderbilt Consulting Group Inc. He was the sole shareholder of Vanderbilt, the U.S. attorney’s office said. In September 2012, Ambrosino opened a bank account in the name of Vanderbilt where he was the sole authorized signer.
From 2013 through 2015, the attorney’s office said that Ambrosino diverted more than $800,000 in legal fees to the Vanderbilt bank account from clients, including the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency and the Nassau County Local Economic Assistance Corp., that was meant to be revenue for the law firm.
Ambrosino neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing concerning his conduct related to the law firm as part of his sentence. The court ordered the defendant to pay $700,000 in restitution to the Uniondale firm.
Ambrosino also evaded substantial income taxes and filed false and fraudulent corporate tax returns on behalf of Vanderbilt for the 2011, 2012 and 2013 tax years, the U.S. attorney’s office said.
Ambrosino evaded income tax by claiming false and fraudulent business expense deductions and failing to report funds he diverted from the law firm, the office said.
During the 2013 tax year, Ambrosino failed to claim approximately $335,000 in funds he diverted from the law firm on either his personal income tax return or the Vanderbilt corporate tax return, the U.S. attorney’s office said.
During the 2014 tax year, Ambrosino did not make a timely filing of his personal tax return or the corporate tax return for Vanderbilt, the office said.
Because of this, the IRS suffered a tax loss of approximately $254,628 and the New York State Tax Department suffered a tax loss of approximately $56,517, the office said.
“The tax evasion perpetuated by Mr. Ambrosino impacts various services provided by the income taxes collected by the IRS on behalf of all of our citizens,” IRS agent Jonathan Larsen said.
At the time of sentencing, Ambrosino had substantially paid his tax debt to the IRS and the New York State Tax Department, the U.S. attorney’s office said.
“I think it was an appropriate sentence,” James Druker, Ambrosino’s attorney, said in an interview Monday.
He said that Ambrosino’s case is not a political corruption case as he had not taken any bribes, paid any bribes or done anything that conflicted with his council office.
Druker noted that if a political figure was pulled over and given a drunken driving citation, it would only be a political corruption case if the politician tried to bribe a police officer.
He said that Ambrosino proved to be a “clean politician” after going through what Druker called a governmental “proctology exam” done by federal investigators since 2017.
Representatives from the Hempstead Town Board were not available for comment.