It is getting harder and harder to keep track of indicted Nassau County pols and their cronies.
First there were the indictments and convictions of Sen. Dean Skelos and his son, Adam, on charges of bribery, corruption and extortion.
Next, Frederick Ippolito, a Republican operative and former Town of Oyster Bay commissioner, pleaded guilty to evading federal taxes on $2 million of income.
Then, County Executive Ed Mangano and Oyster Bay supervisor, John Venditto, were indicted on the same day in October 2016 on charges that included bribery, obstruction of justice and lying to Federal agents.
There was also the indictment of North Hempstead Democratic operative Gerard Terry on eight charges of tax fraud.
But, in late June, indictments announced by Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas took the cake.
After a 14-month investigation, a grand jury charged eight people for allegedly participating in what District Attorney Singas described as “a shocking interconnected web of political corruption.”
Two hundred and twenty charges were filed against the gang of eight that included the already federally-indicted John Venditto and Frederick Ippolito, who died in federal prison shortly after the grand jury issued sealed indictments.
The charges, which total 83 pages, indicate there had been conspiracies concocted to defraud the government of Oyster Bay.
And it looks like the late Frederick Ippolito — Oyster Bay commissioner of Planning and Development from 2009 to 2016 — was the ringleader and the primary beneficiary of the plots.
Of the 220 counts listed in the grand jury indictment, at least 166 were directed at Ippolito.
He was accused of multiple accounts of receiving rewards — including sexual ones — for official misconduct, receiving bribes totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars, money laundering, falsifying records and defrauding the government.
Ippolito wielded incredible power over Town of Oyster Bay elected and appointed officials.
Even after Ippolito was removed from office in January, 2016, pleaded guilty to income tax evasion and was thrown in the slammer, he allegedly continued to play an active role in the Town of Oyster Bay government “with the knowledge and approval of Venditto.”
Venditto, his “right-hand man” Richard Porcelli, the deputy executive leader of the North Massapequa Republican Club, and Frank Nocerino, Town of Oyster Bay’s commissioner of parks, were 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.”
To conceal their motives, it is alleged the conspirators created a list of employees to be fired along with the targeted individual.
There’s more to the Ippolito story.
Paving company owners were indicted for allegedly paying cash bribes to Ippolito.
Marisa Lizza and Elia Lizza, president of Carlo Lizzo & Sons Paving Incorporated, wrote personal checks to Commissioner Ippolito from 2009 to 2016 totaling $1.6 million.
In return, Ippolito allegedly used his influence to advance the approval of a senior housing development project.
What I can’t understand, is why Ippolito maintained a Svengali-like control over Town of Oyster Bay officials?
Perhaps he held something over their heads to keep them in line.
Maybe he shared the swag with cooperating officials.
Or maybe, just maybe, Ippolito was simply the chieftain of a gang of dopes who convinced themselves they were above the law and could pull off any scam they hatched.
Regardless of motives, decades of Oyster Bay pols putting their personal interests above the common good appears to have led to shakedowns, graft, pay to play deal making and influence peddling becoming common practices.
This culture of corruption helps explain why Oyster Bay, one of the wealthiest towns in the nation, is on the brink of fiscal insolvency.
When announcing the Oyster Bay corruption indictments, D.A. Singas, a public servant dedicated to rooting out municipal corruption, aptly observed, “The victims here are the honest taxpayers who work hard and play by the rules to live in the beautiful Town of Oyster Bay.”