Suffolk Pol Pleads Guilty to Filing False Statement

Rudy Sunderman
Suffolk County Legis. Rudy Sunderman (R-Mastic), right, leaves court with his attorney Tuesday, July 16, 2019. (Long Island Press photo)

Suffolk County Legislator Rudy Sunderman (R-Mastic) struck a plea deal with Suffolk County prosecutors in which he avoided jail time after admitting to knowingly filing a false financial disclosure form with the Suffolk County Board of Ethics.

Sunderman pleaded guilty Friday at Suffolk County court to a misdemeanor charge of intentional failure to file an accurate financial disclosure statement. In exchange for his plea, he he was sentenced to a conditional discharge, meaning he will avoid jail time, and will be required to pay a $1,000 fine. Five felony counts of perjury were dropped in the case.

“This legislator was told by the Suffolk County Board of Ethics that he was not permitted under the law to continue to get paid by the Centereach Fire District on top of his six-figure legislator salary,” Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini said. “Instead of simply doing the right thing, he created a sham company in his wife’s name to try to get around the ruling. When the Board of Ethics started asking questions about this employment, he filed a false financial disclosure form with the Board of Ethics concealing $60,000 in outside income paid to that company for his continued work for the fire district.”

County law bars elected officials from holding paid positions with other government entities. The perjury charges were filed after investigators alleged that Sunderman lied to authorities under oath.

Sunderman, who was re-elected to represent the Mastic-Shirley area despite the charges, was one of three sitting Suffolk legislators with cases in criminal court. Suffolk County Legislator Dr. William Spencer (D-Centerport) was arrested in October for allegedly trying to trade drugs for sexual favors from an undercover police officer posing as a sex worker, authorities said. And Suffolk County Legislator Nicholas Caracappa (R-Selden) was arrested in December for alleged domestic violence less than a month before he was scheduled to be sworn into office, Suffolk County police said.

Spencer and Caracappa remain in office and like Sunderman before them, both previously pleaded not guilty. Sunderman announced last month that his last day in office would be on March 21 to take a job as the deputy director of the county’s fire academy.

“This will not be the end of my political career and one day I will be back again running for local government,” he said.

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