The scandal that rocked the Nassau County Police Department earlier this month and led to the ousting of its commissioner is likely to seep into the New Year, with Democrats once again calling for legislative hearings to ascertain if corruption reached Nassau’s highest office.
The latest salvo came Friday amid new revelations from the Democratic caucus that they say directly links a since-retired Nassau police sergeant, who, while off-duty issued a subpoena to a third-party county executive candidate’s former campaign worker at the behest of his attorney, to County Executive Ed Mangano.
Democrats point to $500 in campaign contributions that Sgt. Sal Mistretta donated to Mangano’s re-election efforts on Oct. 18, in addition to $100 he gave Mangano in March. Mistretta’s name also appears on a Mangano fundraiser invitation dated one week prior to the election. Democrats claim Mistretta was one of the “apparent organizers” for the Crest Hollow County Club event, which included The Sopranos star Steve Schirripa. Donations ranged from $200 to $5,000, according to an invitation provided by Nassau Democrats.
Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, who penned a letter to Mangano on Dec. 12 notifying him that his hand-picked commissioner, Thomas Dale, had ordered the arrest of Roosevelt resident Randy White at the request of Nassau County Executive-hopeful Andrew Hardwick’s sole donor, Oheka Castle owner Gary Melius, noted that her office is still investigating Mistretta’s role in the incident.
White was pulled off a bus and arrested on Oct. 5 on Dale’s orders, Rice said.
Hardwick’s campaign wanted White to re-testify in a case regarding Hardwick’s failed bid that a judge had already ruled was in violation of state laws. Mistretta, according to Rice, hand-delivered the civil subpoena to White while he was in custody at the request of Hardwick’s attorney.
Mangano forced Dale out the same day he received Rice’s letter.
Democrats said the sole purpose of Hardwick’s campaign was to siphon minority votes away from Democrat Tom Suozzi in favor of Mangano, a Republican. Mangano’s office has repeatedly denied that claim.
“The facts all point to Sgt. Mistretta being in direct contact with Ed Mangano around the same time Randy White was served,” Democrat minority leader Legis. Kevan Abrahams said in a press release issued Friday.
When reached by phone, Mistretta declined to answer questions regarding the Democrats’ claims and directed all inquires to his lawyer, who did not return a request for comment. Mistretta has said he didn’t know he was delivering a subpoena.
Mangano’s chief spokesman also did not respond to an email requesting a comment.
Rice found no criminality in her original report.
Abrahams, in a later phone interview, said he’s going to keep calling Nassau Legis. Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) to use her subpoena power so all parties can testify under oath—though even he believes it’s unlikely she would put Mangano, a fellow Republican, on the stand.
“How many facts need to come out before the county executive is honest with the taxpayers of this county on his connections if any at all with Randy White, with Sgt. Mistretta, with Tom Dale and everything else?” Abrahams said by phone. “Did he have knowledge? We’re still striving for that.”
“I think it definitely begs the question,” he added of a possible connection between Mistretta and Mangano. “I mean look, the contributions, that can be understandable, but there’s no way anyone would host a fundraiser for any elected official and not know them or there’s no way any elected official can deny knowing them.”
Abrahams noted that he finds it “hard to believe” that Mistretta, a 26-year veteran of the NCPD, didn’t know it was a subpoena that he was delivering to White.