For years, Gerard Terry was a political heavyweight in Nassau County.
Serving as chairman of the town of North Hempstead Democratic Party, he was known to make or break political careers.
One of Terry’s top political proteges was Jon Kaiman, a former North Hempstead supervisor. (Kaiman is best remembered for publicly berating a Catholic priest for referring to Jesus Christ at a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony.)
During Kaiman’s tenure, Terry was paid $74,000 a year to serve as North Hempstead’s counsel for the board of zoning appeals.
Terry also had paid political sinecures at the Nassau County Board of Elections, the Long Beach Housing Authority, the North Hempstead Housing Authority, the Freeport Community Development Agency, the Roosevelt Public Library, the Village of Port Washington North and the Village of Manorhaven.
All told, Terry cost taxpayers about $250 thousand a year.
Frankly, I can’t imagine how any one person could handle so many political jobs. Perhaps some of these gigs were “low-show” or “no-show” jobs.
Regardless, it appears Boss Terry thought his exalted rank put him above IRS regulations.
In January 2017, Robert Capers, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, indicted Terry because he “knowingly and willfully refused to pay his federal income taxes.”
“That he did so willingly, earning hundreds of thousands from government and civic positions,” the U.S. Attorney concluded, “only makes his conduct more offensive.”
To add insult to injury, Terry, after pleading guilty to tax evasion and after being disbarred, was caught practicing law without a license in Nassau County District Court on May 2, 2018.
The JD Journal pointed out that Section 478 of the N.Y.S. judiciary code, “stipulates that disbarred attorneys are strictly prohibited from entering courtrooms and giving legal advice, unless they are representing themselves. Disbarred attorneys who violate this law can be convicted of a felony.”
Supreme Court Judge Christopher Quinn, outraged by Terry’s action, ordered him behind bars.
Terry, despite his guilty plea, has shown little remorse and still thought himself above the law.
However, this did not stop Nassau’s political and legal players from circling the wagons and attempting to come to his aid.
Scores of letters were sent to U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert pleading for leniency.
One letter was from Hazel Dukes. That’s the same Hazel Dukes, who Wikipedia reports, “was convicted in criminal court after a plea bargain to attempted grand larceny, her admission was she stole $13,000 from a disabled NYC OTB worker who had been giving Dukes’ checks to cash for her while she was a manager of that organization.”
“Gerard,” she wrote, “grew up to become not only a fine lawyer, but a highly effective political leader.”
Well, “fine” lawyers don’t get disbarred. Dukes also described Terry’s criminal actions as “mistakes concerning his taxes and personal finances.” Evading tax payments for years is not a “mistake,” it is a series of deliberate criminal actions.
Then there’s a letter from Richie Kessel.
That’s the Kessel who; Gov. Spitzer fired as CEO of LIPA; Gov. Cuomo fired as CEO of NYPA; and who was criticized in a state Inspector General investigation report. Kessel wrote: “Mr. Terry has spent countless hours working to better peoples’ lives and improve the democracy under which we govern.”
By enriching himself based on his political connections? If Terry really wanted to improve the plight of Americans and New Yorkers, he should have paid his taxes.
Town of Hempstead Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby — a Democrat who votes with the Republicans and opposes Democratic Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen in exchange for political swag — wrote, “He is truly a man that has a high moral compass….”
Federal prosecutors proved Terry “demonstrated a long pattern of systematically avoiding paying federal taxes through false tax returns, creating accounts not in his name, pressuring colleagues to not answer IRS notices of levy, and cashing checks rather than depositing them in accounts where they could be seized.”
So much for his “moral compass.”
And so much for “character witnesses” who themselves are of questionable character.
Fortunately, Judge Seybert ignored the 100 dubious pleas she received and rightly sentenced Terry to three years in prison stating he “can’t back away from 15 years of deliberate conduct.”