MINEOLA - Nassau lawmakers voted unanimously Monday to hire a monitor to oversee the embattled health care provider at the county jail amid accusations of inadequate care.
The move comes in the wake of several inmate deaths under Armor's care since it signed on with the county in 2011. As News 12 has reported, the state attorney general has filed a lawsuit against Armor, accusing the for-profit contractor of providing "dangerously inadequate" care. The lawsuit also alleges that county officials failed to enforce the terms of Armor's contract.
Before the vote, Democratic lawmakers drilled Mangano administration attorney Elizabeth Loconsolo on alleged problems with the provider, Armor Correctional Health Services.
During Loconsolo's testimony, lawmakers discovered that she is married to Nassau Sheriff Michael Sposato, a Mangano appointee who runs the jail.
"I found her testimony to be incredibly defensive of the sheriff, who happens to be her husband," says Legisator Carrie Solages (D-Elmont). "It is a conflict of interest for the wife of an elected official or an appointed official to give testimony or to push a policy that is, in essence, defending someone very close to them."
When asked why Loconsolo did not disclose her marriage, a county spokesman said, "Liz Loconsolo is a professional attorney who represents the county executive. No woman should be defined by her husband in the year 2016."
Despite the controversy, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle voted unanimously to hire a monitor to oversee Armor Correctional. A $45,000 contract with Community Oriented Correctional Health Services will put the company in charge of supervising Armor until its contract expires in May.
Legislator Siela Bynoe (D-Westbury) called the move to hire a monitor long overdue.
"We've witnessed 12 deaths. Six of them have been deemed to be negligent in the eyes of the state Department of Corrections and we believe this is essential," Bynoe says. "I can't help but think had this happened when we initially called for it, we may have been able to save some of those individuals who perished at the facility."
Norma Gonsalves, presiding officer of the Legislature, issued a statement saying, "We think the administration effectively made a case for the approval of this entity to assist our jail medical provider in meeting its contractual obligations."