Ex-Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor Venditto pleads guilty to corruption charges
Former Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto has pleaded guilty to state corruption charges.
The 70-year-old Massapequa man pleaded guilty in court Friday morning to a felony charge of corrupt use of position or authority and a misdemeanor charge of official misconduct. Venditto admitted to the conduct under a plea deal that will spare from facing jail time, probation or fines, News 12 is told.
Venditto served two decades as Oyster Bay's top elected official. He resigned in 2017, and was indicted in Nassau County court for his alleged involvement in a multimillion-dollar scheme.
District Attorney Madeline Singas said in a news release that according to the indictment, Frederick Ippolito, who was serving as Commissioner of Planning and Development for the Town of Oyster Bay, received $1.6 million from the developers of Cantiague Commons, a proposed $150 million residential housing complex for seniors. It needed the approval of the Town of Oyster Bay Town Board to grant an application to rezone the property for residential use.
According to the release: Ippolito had substantial control and influence over any potential real estate developments within the Town. Venditto allowed Ippolito to exert control over the developer’s rezoning application and site plan approval, even though he was aware of Ippolito’s impermissible conflict of interest. Ippolito’s financial stake in Cantiague Commons was not disclosed to the public or the other Town Board members who voted to approve the project and relied on the representations of Venditto and Ippolito.
Singas said Ippolito failed to report the payments from the developers to the Internal Revenue Service and he was indicted in March 2015 for tax evasion. Ippolito pleaded guilty on January 26, 2016 to one count of tax evasion in federal court for tax year 2008 and was sentenced to 27 months’ imprisonment on Sept. 28, 2016. Ippolito was indicted by a Nassau County grand jury for his alleged actions but passed away before he was arraigned on the charges.
Venditto proclaimed his innocence about a year ago after a separate federal corruption case against him ended with his acquittal.
“He is now a convicted felon,” said DA Singas. “Look at that fall from grace. He was a former town supervisor and he walks away with his head hung low as a convicted felon. He lost his law license. He no longer has the privilege and honor of being a member of the bar. That's been wiped away from him.”
Venditto’s attorney Marc Agnifilo called the day “bittersweet.”
“The bitter part is pleading guilty to a felony and a misdemeanor. The sweet part is…it all just ended. It all just ended forever. And it ended with no punishment,” he said.
Without a plea deal, Venditto could have faced up to four years in prison if convicted on the top charge.
Current Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino issued a statement that said in part, "This marks the end of a dark chapter in the town's history, which is associated with the past. My administration has a zero tolerance policy for corruption."
In a statement, Nassau Executive Laura Curran said, “Today is yet another reminder that for too long, our residents have been forced to foot the bill for a culture of corruption that permeated all levels of government in Nassau. Our residents have had it with politicians who preach about fiscal integrity while lining their pockets on the taxpayers’ dime.”
Upon leaving the courthouse, News 12 asked Venditto what he planned to do now:
"Like I said, I'm going back to retirement, where every day is like Saturday."