HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A plush, post-retirement gig at the expense of innocent taxpayers. That’s what one suburban town said it dug up on a former employee.
Now, there are demands for a criminal investigation into an alleged backdoor contract, CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported Monday.
Residents in America’s largest township reacted to accusations of cheating with their taxpayer dollars.
“Abuse of the public trust,” one person said.
“We expect something fair and honest and true,” another said.
Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen called for a criminal investigation into a nearly $900,000 consulting contract that former employee Ana-Maria Hurtado, commissioner of the Department of Occupational Resources, allegedly negotiated for herself and two co-workers days before retiring.
“There is a deep-seeded culture of corruption that still pervasive in the town of Hempstead,” Gillen said. “I was elected to end it and I am not going to shy away from that responsibility.”
Gillen said Hurtado, under the previous administration, signed Hempstead town to a human resources consulting company contract, securing a plush post-retirement job for herself in violation town and state ethics laws.
Hurtado’s husband said they were baffled by the charge. CBS2 tried to reach her through the agency HempsteadWorks Career Center, but was unsuccessful.
Alcott HR said Hempstead Occupational Resources has been a client since 1993.
“Not really sure why it’s a big issue now. No one’s come to us and questioned anything,” Alcott HR’s Steven Politis said.
How did this happen? The department’s contracts typically have not gone before the town board. Its spending is not subject to oversight because it’s federally funded.
“We should look at it as a lesson,” one resident said.
“This is a position of trust,” another said.
“If you have officials who are corrupt in government it’s because the public sent them there,” another added.
“Sadly, every time money is wasted on patronage and feeding the politically connected, the victims are always the taxpayers,” Gillen said.
The Nassau County District Attorney’s Office is now reviewing the allegations. The Hempstead Town Board is set to vote Tuesday on extending the outsourcing company contract.
Hempstead’s town supervisor is now calling on the current Department of Occupational Resources commissioner to resign.