Hempstead IDA released confidential information: county comptroller

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The Hempstead Industrial Development Agency released confidential information regarding a draft audit in a news release on Wednesday after being told the information was not for public dissemination, according to the Nassau County comptroller’s office.

The town IDA sent a release stating a July 25 draft audit by the county comptroller found millions of dollars of PILOT, payment in lieu of taxes, funds collected by the agency were not disbursed by the Town of Hempstead Comptroller’s Office to the county.

Efforts to reach Hempstead Town Comptroller Kevin Conroy were unavailing.

In accordance with its policy for about 20 years, the IDA forwarded PLIOT payments to the town comptroller’s office, the release states.

“The IDA has no mechanism to disburse PILOT funds to the jurisdictions directly,” the release states.

Fred Parola, CEO of the Hempstead IDA, was not immediately available for comment on Friday.

The county comptroller’s office did not comment on the alleged findings of the draft audit, but spokesman Robert Busweiler said “it is irresponsible for any party involved to draw conclusions, discuss specifics or disclose contents of a draft audit publicly.”

Jeffrey Schoen, the county comptroller’s attorney, sent a letter to IDA attorney, John Ryan, on Thursday to “inform [him] of possible ethics violations” of the agency.

Busweiler shared a copy of the letter with Blank Slate Media.

The letter states that the July 25 draft audit was accompanied by the Nassau Comptroller’s Office policy that said “this draft report shall be kept confidential until such time as a final report is published.”

The policy states the agency “should not publicize or disclose in any manner whatsover the contents of this draft report,” according to the letter.

“This policy is in place to protect the integrity of the audit process, as the report is finalized after official responses are received and incorporated,” Busweiler said in a statement. “We take the integrity of our process seriously and as such will be looking into whether any ethical violations occurred related to this release.

Ryan declined to comment.

The purpose of the draft audit is to solicit feedback from the agency, the letter states.

The letter also points out that Parola is likely familiar with this policy as he previously served as county comptroller.

Parola, a Republican, served as Nassau County comptroller between 1994 and 2002.

Reach reporter Rebecca Klar by email at rklar@theislandnow.com, by phone at 516-307-1045, ext. 204, or follow her on Twitter @rebeccaklar_.

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