The list of indicted elected officials in Nassau County continues to grow.
On Friday, Hempstead Town Councilman Edward Ambrosino was arrested and charged with federal tax evasion in what federal authorities said was a scheme to divert legal fees to his own bank account.
Federal prosecutors on Friday unsealed an eight-count indictment charging Ambrosino with wire fraud, tax evasion, making and subscribing to false corporate tax returns, and failing to file a return or pay tax. He reportedly pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Friday afternoon at U.S. District Court in Central Islip.
Ambrosino, a Republican councilman for more than 13 years, was also of counsel to Uniondale-based law firm Ruskin Moscou Faltischek from 2001 to 2015. Ambrosino’s Hempstead Town biography notes he’s currently of counsel to Rivkin Radler, which is also based in Uniondale. In 2011, he allegedly incorporated Vanderbilt Consulting Group, Inc., of which he was the sole signer on the account.
Ambrosino is also listed as a principal to Atlanta, Ga.-based Blue Rhino Capital, a “highly specialized private equity investment firm,” touts its website.
From 2013 to 2015, Ambrosino, 52, of North Valley Stream, allegedly moved legal fees intended for the law firm to the Vanderbilt Consulting Group account. His clients included the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency and the Nassau County Local Economic Assistance Corporation. Ambrosino allegedly deposited more than $800,000 of the $1.3 million he received in legal fees from the two agencies to the account, authorities said, which placed him in violation of his compensation agreement with the firm.
Since 2010, Ambrosino has served as Special Counsel to Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, who last year pleaded not guilty to bribery charges. Mangano’s wife, Linda, and ex-Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto, were also charged in connection with the alleged scheme. Including these and others, Ambrosino is the sixth government official in Nassau County arrested or convicted within the past two years.
“Today’s indictment is a reminder of the obvious, that public officials are not exempt from paying their fair share of taxes and otherwise complying with the laws of the United States, just like any other citizen,” said Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District Bridget Rohde.
Various Democrats in Nassau pounced on the news of Ambrosino’s arrest.
“Today is another sad day for Nassau County as, once again, a public official is charged with federal crimes,” Legis. Laura Curran (D-Baldwin), a county executive candidate, said in a statement. “I join residents across our county who are sick and tired of career politicians acting as if the rules don’t apply to them. As Counsel to the County IDA and a Town Councilman, Ed Ambrosino is involved in various layers of municipal government and, if true, the alleged conduct cannot be tolerated for a public official.”
“Nassau County’s reputation is once again humiliated by the announcement of federal criminal charges against Hempstead Councilman Ed Ambrosino,” state Assemb. Chuck Lavine (D-Glen Cove), who is also running for county executive, said in a statement.
“This arrest is yet another example of how corruption has infected every level of government—and why we need stronger penalties and oversight to fight it,” state Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) said in a statement. “It is no surprise that IDAs are once again in the middle of shady deals.”
Hempstead Town did not respond to a request for comment as of press time.
According to Ambrosino’s bio on Rivkin Radler’s site, he is “a leading authority for companies on economic development, IDA and conduit issuer development transactions, and specializes in real estate development and municipal law.”