Nassau County Legis. Dave Denenberg (D-Merrick) was arraigned Friday afternoon at U.S. District Court in Central Islip on mail fraud charges. He pleaded not guilty and was released on $500,000 bond.
Denenberg, a former partner at the Manhattan-based firm Davidoff, Hutcher & Citron LLP, where he specialized in intellectual property law, allegedly billed a Port Washington electronics company more than $2 million for legal services he never performed, according to a federal complaint obtained by the Press.
The charges appear to stem from a lawsuit filed against Denenberg by the firm in September, alleging that he bilked a client for services he never provided. Denenberg, a New York State Senate candidate at the time, dropped out of the race.
Denenberg waived a grand jury trial, paving the way for a deal between he and prosecutors that is in the works–with prosecutors stating in court Friday that the disgraced legislator has already agreed to repay a portion of the amount he allegedly fraudulently billed his client.
Further details about such a deal could be announced at Denenberg’s next court appearance on Dec. 11.
A spokeswoman for the Democratic minority of Nassau County Legislature, where Denenberg is one of the most outspoken members, didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Denenberg surrendered to the FBI Friday morning, along with his passport, though prosecutors do not deem him to be a flight risk.
An FBI spokesman said they “had involvement in the case” but declined to go into detail.
According to the federal complaint, Denenberg “devised and carried out a scheme and artifice to fraudulently obtain money from” the company, which is not identified.
Denenberg allegedly sent fraudulent bills for purported legal representation and other expenses to the client via the U.S. Postal Service. The company paid Denenberg’s firm through checks also sent by mail, according to the complaint. The client paid Denenberg’s firm a total of $2,342,607 for legal services never provided and expenses never incurred, it reads.
Denenberg is currently serving his eighth term in the Legislature. He left Davidoff, Hutcher & Citron in June of this year.
Outside the courthouse Friday Denenberg thanked family, friends and constituents for their support “during this very difficult time since the end of September. And I apologize that we’ve all been going through all of this.”
He said he hasn’t commented publicly “because it’s not to anyone’s benefit for me to be trying a case in the press” and declined to discuss aspects of the case, deferring to his attorney.
Denenberg’s civil suit attorney Jeffrey Gold, though not involved in the criminal case, told the Press by phone that the lawsuit is nearly settled. Not all the terms have been completed and exact details won’t be made public, Gold explained, but he expects the settlement to be completed within the next 30 days.