Hewlett Harbor resident John Novello, a former deputy commissioner for the Town of Hempstead Buildings Department, was sentenced on Sept. 30 to five years probation for stealing more than $59,000 from the Cedarhurst Republican Committee and in another matter for mortgage fraud.
Arrested in 2019 for the money theft from the local GOP committee, Novello was originally charged with grand larceny second-degree, four counts of grand larceny third-degree, two counts of petit larceny and four counts of a violation of Election Law.
On July 23, Novello, 53, who at one time was chief of staff for State Assemblywoman Melissa Miller, pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree grand larceny. He is also required to pay $41,000 in restitution to the Nassau County Republican Committee.
Novello was also found guilty of making what the Nassau County District Attorney’s office called “false representations to a commercial lender to secure more than $1 million in loans that he used to finance the purchase and remodeling of his family home.”
“As a public official and political party leader, John Novello was entrusted with serving the people of Hempstead and leading his Republican club, but instead he used donor funds as his personal piggy bank and made a fake company to scam a lender into giving him a million dollar loan,” Acting District Attorney Joyce Smith stated in a news release. “We have no tolerance for abuses like these in Nassau County, and because of this prosecution, he will be held accountable for these criminal betrayals of trust.”
From January 2016 to August 2019, Novello, then a deputy commissioner for the Town of Hempstead Buildings Department (he was fired in February) and former executive leader of the Cedarhurst Republican Committee, withdrew more than $20,000 in cash from the committee’s campaign bank account for personal use, District Attorney officials said.
Novello withdrew cash from the account more than 40 times in amounts of up to $2,000. He was the only signatory on the committee’s account, and deposited some of the cash into his personal and business bank accounts.
Additionally, Novello stole more than $37,000 from donations to the committee’s annual golf tournament fundraiser and the Mayor’s Cup in 2018 and 2019. He transferred a total of more than $22,000 from the 2018 Mayor’s Cup donations and more than $15,000 from the 2019 Mayor’s Cup donations to personal and business bank accounts Novello spent the money on home mortgage payments, a trip to a winery, luxury candies, entertainment, gas, restaurants and groceries.
Campaign finance records show that this committee has failed to report any of their expenditures or donations as required by law, DA officials said.
In a separate matter, between August 2017 and March 2019, Novello made false statements on applications for commercial loans that he ultimately used to purchase and renovate his primary residence in Hewlett Harbor. In 2018, he ran for Hewlett Harbor trustee and lost.
Novello created a limited liability corporation with no legitimate business purpose in order to secure loans for more than $1 million from the commercial lender and signed affidavits swearing that the property he was buying was an investment property exclusively, and that neither he nor his family would be using the property as a residence.
Despite making those statements, Novello used the money he obtained to finance the purchase and remodeling of his permanent home. He also used money stolen from the Cedarhurst Republican Committee to pay the mortgage. The commercial lender does not finance consumer loans and only granted the loan to Novello because of the representations he made.