Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony Santino called on Councilman Edward Ambrosino to resign on Tuesday, four days after he was arrested and charged with eight counts of wire fraud, tax evasion, making and subscribing to false corporate tax returns, and failing to file a return or pay tax, according to an indictment released by the U.S. Department of Justice.
In a series of tweets, Santino said that his administration had “zero tolerance” for any action that “conveys even the slightest appearance of impropriety, or undermines the people’s trust in their town government.
“I firmly believe that he should resign from the town board effective immediately,” Santino wrote.
According to published reports, Ambrosino’s lawyer, Dennis Lemke, said his client was maintaining his innocence and would not resign. Lemke did not respond to a request for comment.
Ambrosino, 52, a resident of North Valley Stream, diverted more than $800,000 in revenue from his former employer and failed to pay $250,000 in federal taxes, the indictment stated.
Santino replaced Ambrosino with Councilman Anthony D’Esposito as deputy supervisor on Monday. He added that D’Esposito “is the right person for this position.”
Mike Deery, a spokesman for Santino, said that the deputy supervisor has the authority to sign contracts and other legal documents in the town supervisor’s absence.
Ambrosino did not attend the town board meeting on Tuesday.
A member of the board since 2003, Ambrosino has been special counsel to Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano since 2010, and is a former counsel to the Uniondale law firm Ruskin Moscou Faltischek. Additionally, he founded the Vanderbilt Consulting Group Inc. and was its sole shareholder. Ambrosino’s LinkedIn profile also lists him as owner of Blue Rhino Capital LLC, and as counsel to Rivkin Radler LLC.
From 2013 to 2015, officials allege, Ambrosino deposited $800,000 in legal fees paid to Ruskin Moscou Faltischek by the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency and the Nassau County Local Economic Assistance Corporation, among other clients, into the Vanderbilt bank account.
According to the indictment, Ambrosino also evaded substantial income taxes and filed fraudulent corporate tax returns for Vanderbilt for 2011, 2012 and 2013 through various actions such as deducting rent expenses for a Manhattan apartment used by an unidentified third party. The indictment claims that the IRS lost nearly $255,000 as a result.
Norma Gonsalves, presiding officer of the Nassau County Legislature, and the Republican Legislative majority on Tuesday called for the IDA to cancel its contracts with Ambrosino. In a letter to IDA Chairman Joseph Kearney, Gonsalves, Deputy Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello and Alternate Deputy Presiding Officer Howard Kopel wrote, “Much like County Executive [Edward] Mangano, Mr. Ambrosino will have his day in court to prove his innocence. However, the nature of his charges are gravely concerning. As such, we ask that the Nassau County IDA cancel any outstanding contracts with Mr. Ambrosino immediately to remove any potential for future impropriety.”
The letter came a day after legislators on both sides of the aisle — all of whom are up for re-election in November — called for Mangano’s resignation to help restore trust in local government. Mangano responded on social media that he had no plans to step down, and called the move a “cheap political stunt.”
If convicted, Ambrosino faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for the wire fraud charge, five years for each charge of tax evasion, three years for each charge of making and subscribing to false corporate tax returns, and one year for failing to file a tax return. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Catherine Mirabile and Raymond Tierney in the Eastern District of New York.
“It’s very sad to hear, and if the accusations are true, it’s very disappointing,” said Rosalie Norton, president of the West Hempstead Community Support Association. Ambrosino, Norton said, was instrumental in ridding the community of the Courtesy Hotel, long plagued by prostitution and drugs.
Ambrosino represents the town’s Second Councilmanic District, which includes Bellerose Terrace, Floral Park, Garden City, Garden City South, the incorporated area of New Hyde Park, Salisbury, South Floral Park, Stewart Manor and portions of Bellerose, East Meadow, Elmont, Franklin Square, Hempstead, Uniondale and West Hempstead.
Arraigned on March 31 in U.S. District Court in Central Islip, Ambrosino pleaded not guilty and was released the same day on $250,000 bail. His next court date is May 5.
Comments about this story? Send letters to the editor to firstname.lastname@example.org.