TOWN OF OYSTER BAY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – A Long Island lawmaker acquitted of corruption charges is asking tax payers to foot the bill for his upcoming civil defense.
Former Oyster Bay town supervisor John Venditto was cleared by a jury after being charged with corruption alongside Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano.
Venditto is now asking town taxpayers to pay a $50,000 retainer for his defense on security fraud charges; similar to what he was cleared of criminally. According to local officials, Oyster Bay is forced to consider it.
“We are legally required to listen to the request and it is on the agenda for a vote tonight,” a town spokesperson said.
“The board better make sure they are insuring the risk exposure of that town properly going forward. It’s wrong to now come to the tax payers to pay this bill,” New York State Sen. John Brooks of Massapequa argued while urging the board to vote no.
Brooks says if Oyster Bay failed to buy public official liability insurance, taxpayers shouldn’t be on the hook for it now.
Residents may also be liable for millions in town-backed defaulted loans. Although he was acquitted of any crimes, Venditto’s attorneys did not dispute that their client reportedly received freebies from loan recipient Harendra Singh.
“He was acquitted but doesn’t mean he wasn’t guilty,” an Oyster Bay resident told CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff.
Venditto’s attorney says the former town supervisor paid for his criminal defense out of pocket, but a civil case is different.
“It’s not a criminal action, it’s a civil action and under town code the conduct occurred during his employment and he’s entitled to indemnification,” attorney Joshua Kirshner said in a phone interview.
Sen. Brooks is sponsoring legislation that would bar elected officials from using tax payer money to cover their legal fees.