Ten-term Republican Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto, citing his arrest on federal corruption charges in October, announced Tuesday that he plans to resign the office he was first elected to 20 years ago.
The announcement comes 76 days after a group of Republican New York State senators called on Venditto to resign following his Oct. 20 arrest. The senators also called for the resignation of fellow Republican Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, who was arrested the same day in connection with similar charges in the same indictment as Venditto. Mangano said immediately after his arrest that he refused to step down, but Venditto initially declined to comment on his plans.
“Throughout my career in town government, one consideration rose above all others, namely, what is best for the Town of Oyster Bay and its residents,” Venditto said in a statement. “Accordingly, I have decided to leave my position as the Oyster Bay Town Supervisor. I now feel that it is in the best interests of the Town and its residents for me to do so, especially since it will be difficult, if not impossible, for me to function as the Town Supervisor going forward, as I focus on clearing my name. Therefore, I am forthwith submitting a letter to the Oyster Bay Town Board stating that I am leaving my position as of the close of business on Wednesday, January 4, 2017.”
The supervisor’s announcement came seven weeks after he led his first town board meeting since his arrest. That November meeting fell on the same day that Mangano held his first news conference since being arrested.
At his meeting, Venditto broke his silence on the case while speaking with reporters, but declined to discuss it with residents. Mangano declined to answer questions about the case at his news conference before exiting through a back door to dodge questions, according to reporters in attendance.
Venditto’s announcement ends months of speculation since he had refused to say after his arrest whether or not he intended to resign. Mangano defiantly told reporters outside the courthouse that he would not resign, but has not said whether he would seek re-election to a third term when his current term expires next year.
Federal prosecutors have alleged Mangano and Venditto conspired between 2010 and 2015 to use their power to back loans for and award contracts to a businessman, who in turn gave them kickbacks and a $450,000 no-show job for the county executive’s wife, Linda, who was also charged. All three have pleaded not guilty, are free on bail and face up to 20 years in prison, if convicted. They’re due back in court Feb. 7.
Venditto’s arrest and his name recognition is believed to be partly responsible for why his son, freshman state Sen. Michael Venditto (R-Massapequa), was unseated by Democratic challenger John Brooks, who will be sworn in on Friday after a lengthy recount.
The arrests of Mangano and Venditto are the latest in a string of federal corruption cases involving public officials on Long Island.
Ex-Suffolk County Police Chief James Burke was sentenced last month to 46 months in prison for beating a suspect and covering it up, former Nassau County Legis. Dave Denenberg (D-Merrick) served three months in jail last year for bilking $2.3 million from a client of his law firm and former Oyster Bay Planning Commissioner Frederick Ippolito was sentenced in September to two years in prison for failing to claim $2 million in income on his taxes.
Appealing their convictions are disgraced New York State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre), who was found guilty of soliciting bribes in November 2015, and former Suffolk County Conservative Party Chairman Edward Walsh, who was convicted last March of fraud for golfing, gambling and politicking when he was on the clock at his job as a corrections lieutenant.
Federal authorities are also reportedly investigating Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota’s office in connection with Burke’s cover-up, prompting calls for Spota to resign from Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, a fellow Democrat, but Spota rebuffed those calls.