Three former members of a Hudson Valley Industrial Development Agency including a former county executive have pleaded guilty to felony corruption charges.
Former Orange County Executive Ed Diana, who served as Orange County's executive for three terms, was one who pleaded guilty Monday, June 21, in a fraud scheme involving the county's Independent Development Agency (IDA).
The pleas come on the heels of a long-term investigation by the Orange County District Attorney's Office in dealings with the IDA with a company called Galileo Technology Group, which was awarded vague contracts from 2015 to 2020.
Appearing in court to enter their guilty pleas included the agency’s former managing director, Vincent Cozzolino, its former CEO, Laurie Villasuso, and Diana.
At the time that they pleaded guilty, Cozzolino and Villasuso each admitted that they had acted in concert with each other in a scheme to defraud the IDA through payments that the IDA made to Cozzolino’s company, Galileo Technologies.
Villasuso admitted that she had been employed by both the IDA and Galileo Technologies Group, Inc. even as she signed contracts on behalf of the IDA with that corporation.
Diana admitted being employed by Galileo Technologies Group, Inc. while he was an IDA board member, and filing a false document to conceal that employment.
As a member of the IDA’s Board of Directors, Diana voted on the contracts that the IDA had with Galileo Technologies Group, Inc., and chaired the committee which dealt most directly with that company.
Together, the three have agreed to pay more than one million two hundred thousand dollars to the IDA by the date that they are sentenced.
"What we have in this case is a pattern of non-disclosed conflicts of interests, where these individuals were self-dealing. They were making decisions that benefitted themselves while they were on a payroll,” said Orange County District Attorney Dave Hoolver.
The investigation found a pattern of conflicts of interest, one-sided contracts, and negligent oversight that resulted in Galileo Technologies Groups, Inc. having virtually unfettered discretion to bill the IDA hundreds of thousands of dollars for services that were only vaguely described and overlapped with services they were required to provide under other existing contracts.
Diana was the Orange county executive from 2002 to 2013 and the Town of Wallkill supervisor from 2018 to 2019.
None of the three face jail time as part of their negotiated deals when they are sentenced in September. They will have to pay restitution to the IDA.
Since the investigation, the entire IDA board has been replaced.
"The board and the lawyer let this happen," Hoovler said.
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