On Feb. 5, after a week of deliberations, a Nassau County jury convicted Fagen, 56, of 18 counts of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing and one misdemeanor count of petit larceny. He was forced to step down from the council, and faces up to four years in prison at his April 8 sentencing. The jury was unable to reach verdicts on the top charge, one count of third-degree grand larceny, and 20 additional counts of offering a false instrument for filing.
Fagen faces up to four years in prison at his April 8 sentencing. His attorney, Marc Gann, said that he intends to appeal and hopes Fagen will only receive probation.
Fagen, who had become a vocal critic of the current administration in the past year, always maintained his innocence, but Mandel said that the matter cast a pall over the council. With his legal issues out of the way, Mandel said that the city could continue to focus on its recovery effort in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
Gann said that he has advised his client not to comment, but said that he was surprised by the speed with which the council appointed his replacement.
“I would have thought that there would have been a more formal process that you would go through to remove an elected official,” Gann said. “I know [Goggin] to be a terrific person — I don’t know her as a member of the Long Beach community per se, but I know her through the courts and I have great respect for her — but it struck me from the council’s perspective that everything happened very quickly.”
Mandel said that the council reached out to Goggin after Fagen’s conviction, and said that any implication that she was being groomed for the seat in anticipation of his ouster is false.
“The council was accused of re-establishing the city’s Ethics Board solely to review Mr. Fagen’s actions, which clearly wasn’t the case,” Mandel said. “Here, the council was obligated by law to appoint somebody after Mr. Fagen was removed for criminal conduct. We were interested in reaching out to her; she had just been appointed to the zoning board, and she had the desire and the dedication to serve Long Beach, so we asked her if she was interested in serving at the council level.”