This story has been updated.
John Venditto, the former Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor, has admitted to state corruption charges, though the Republican will avoid spending any time behind bars.
Venditto, 70, of Massapequa, pleaded guilty in Nassau County Court to a felony charge of corrupt use of a position of authority and a misdemeanor charge of official misconduct. He had initially pleaded not guilty in June 2017.
After serving two decades as town supervisor, Venditto resigned in January 2017 as charges in a different federal corruption case - which was lifted in May last year - were pending.
As part of the plea deal, Venditto was sentenced to a conditional discharge, which means he will face no additional penalties as long as he is not back in trouble with the law. The longtime politician had faced up to four years in prison if convicted on the top corruption charges.
The charges against Venditto alleged that he participated in a bribery scheme that helped facilitate the construction of a housing development for senior citizens as part of a scam to rezone a development in Hicksville.
Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said that according to indictment 1021N-17, Frederick Ippolito, who was serving as Commissioner of Planning and Development for the Town of Oyster Bay, received $1.6 million from the developers of Cantiague Commons, a proposed $150 million residential housing complex for seniors.
The property that was to become Cantiague Commons needed the approval of the Town of Oyster Bay Town Board to grant an application to rezone the property for residential use.
As the Commissioner of Planning and Development, Ippolito had substantial control and influence over any potential real estate developments within the Town. Venditto allowed Ippolito to exert control over the developer’s rezoning application and site plan approval, even though he was aware of Ippolito’s impermissible conflict of interest, Singas said. Ippolito’s financial stake in Cantiague Commons was not disclosed to the public or the other Town Board members who voted to approve the project and relied on the representations of Venditto and Ippolito, according to Singas.
Ippolito failed to report the payments from the developers to the Internal Revenue Service and he was indicted in March 2015 for Tax Evasion, said Singas.
Ippolito pleaded guilty on January 26, 2016 to one count of Tax Evasion in federal court for tax year 2008 and was sentenced to 27 months’ imprisonment on September 28, 2016.
Ippolito was indicted by a Nassau County grand jury for his alleged actions but passed away before he was arraigned on the charges.
“Our investigation uncovered pervasive corruption in the Town of Oyster Bay where the powerful and connected used the government to benefit themselves at the expense of the taxpayers they were sworn to serve,” Singas said. “This felony plea by former Town Supervisor Venditto sends a strong message that corruption will not be tolerated in Nassau County and my office will pursue these cases aggressively without fear or favor.”
State Sen. John Brooks said that the guilty plea “confirms what Long Islanders already know: Corruption and abuse of power are rampant and out-of-control."
State Sen. James Gaughran added, “taxpayers at all levels of government deserve public officials who prioritize the well-being of the public over self-gain.”
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.