The owner of a prominent Long Island paving company has been sentenced for bribing an Oyster Bay commissioner to facilitate the construction of a senior housing development.
Oyster Bay Cove resident Elia “Aly” Lizza was sentenced to a three-year conditional discharge after pleading guilty to one count of bribery in January for bribing an official to construct Cantiague Commons in Hicksville.
In addition to his discharge, Lizza also paid $350,000 to settle a civil forfeiture action brought against him by the Nassau County District Attorney’s Civil Forfeiture Bureau.
Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas also noted that Carlo Lizza & Sons Paving, Inc. – a defunct paving company owned by Lizza – was also sentenced to a conditional discharge.
Lizza’s wife, Marisa Lizza, had her case dismissed. A co-conspirator, Frank Antetomaso, of Massapequa, pleaded guilty on Tuesday, Aug. 25 to one count of disorderly conduct.
“This case exposed a brazen pay-to-play culture in Oyster Bay government that included bribery, rampant nepotism and illegal favors for the friends and family of those in power,” Singas said.
“Elia Lizza – a wealthy business owner and now a convicted felon – was an active participant in that corrupt system and bribed a government official to secure a multi-million-dollar property deal to develop senior housing in Hicksville.”
Singas said that Lizza issued approximately $16 million worth of checks from 2009 through 2016 from personal accounts to Frederick Ippolito, who was serving as the Commissioner of Planning and Development for the Town of Oyster Bay at the time.
In exchange, Ippolito negotiated more than $20 million to Lizza from the developer of the $150 million Cantiague Commons housing complex. At the time, Ippolito was. in control of the oversight of the developer’s rezoning application and site plan approval.
According to Singas, to be developed, Cantiague Commons needed the approval of the Town of Oyster Bay Town Board to grant an application to rezone the property, which was zoned for light industrial, 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.
Ippolito allegedly used town employees and resources to draft agreements among Lizza and other family members. Ippolito and Former Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto advocated to the town board on behalf of Lizza in connection with the subject application, and concealed Ippolito’s financial interest in the Cantiague Commons project.
Once Ippolito was indicted by a federal grand jury, Lizza and Ippolito ceased communicating directly. Antetomaso – a former Town of Oyster Bay official and principal of engineering firm Sidney Bowne that was working on the Cantiague Commons project – allegedly passed messages between Ippolito and Elia Lizza.
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 in prison on Sept. 28, 2016. He died in June 2017 before he was arraigned on grand jury indictment charges.
Singas noted that the original indictment charged the men with more than two hundred counts. Upon the death of Ippolito after the indictment, all but 40 counts were dismissed as having been abated by Ippolito’s death.
Lizza was allowed to plead to one count-the highest count - bribery - “in the interest of judicial economy.”
“This investigation exposed how a dysfunctional government in Oyster Bay benefited crooked contractors and local officials, while honest taxpayers and business owners who played by the rules were shut out,” Singas added. “I thank the prosecutors and detectives of our Public Corruption Bureau for uncovering this massive bribery scheme.”
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