Former Town of Hempstead Councilman Edward Ambrosino was sentenced on Nov. 15 to six months in prison and three years of supervised release for tax evasion.
He was also ordered by a federal judge to pay $700,000 in restitution to his former law firm, from which he had diverted earnings, and more than $255,000 to the Internal Revenue Service.
Ambrosino, a Republican from Valley Stream, had served on the Town Board since 2003, representing the 2nd Council District — which, among other communities, includes East Meadow, Elmont, Franklin Square and West Hempstead.
He was arrested in 2017 and charged with eight counts of wire fraud, tax evasion, making and subscribing to false corporate tax returns, and failing to file a return or pay taxes related to his legal work for the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency and the county Local Economic Assistance Corporation, according to the indictment. The wire fraud charge was ultimately dropped.
Prosecutors had outlined a scheme in which from 2013 to 2015, Ambrosino had diverted more than $800,000 in legal fees owed to his former law firm, which while not identified in court documents, has been confirmed to be the Uniondale-based Ruskin Moscou Faltischek, where he worked from 2001 to 2016. He faced up to two and a half years in prison under federal guidelines.
Ambrosino pleaded guilty to a single count of tax evasion related to his failure to claim roughly $335,000 in funds that he had diverted for the 2014 tax year. He said in court at the time that he had knowingly omitted income on a tax form, and was ordered to pay restitution up to $1 million to the state and federal governments, and resigned from his seat on the Hempstead Town Board.
“Ambrosino, a licensed attorney and elected official charged with levying taxes, abused his positions of trust and was himself a tax cheat,” U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue said in a statement. “This is yet another example of a public official on Long Island breaking the law, this time by failing to pay his fair share of taxes like every other citizen.”
The federal government had petitioned Judge Johanna Seybert to sentence Ambrosino to 30 to 37 months in prison, according to court documents, which cite the plea deal that he entered into in April. But a letter that James Drucker, the attorney representing Ambrosino, sent to the judge argued that the sentencing should be reduced because there was no actual loss of tax dollars, and the wire fraud charge was dropped.
Additionally, he argued that Ambrosino was targeted due to his relationships with other former government officials who were under investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Ambrosino had served as special counsel and a financial partner of former County Executive Edward Mangano, who is scheduled to be sentenced on corruption charges next month.
“In all likelihood, the U.S. Attorney believed or hoped that Mr. Ambrosino would be willing and able to ‘flip’ and cooperate against some of these other targets,” Drucker wrote in the letter on Nov. 7. “That did not prove to be the case.”
Drucker continued to write that Judge Johanna Seybert should “understand how his conduct would have been treated were he not a politician.”
Following the ruling that Ambrosino would only have to serve six months, Drucker said he “thought the sentence was fair and appropriate,” adding that Ambrosino was “not a corrupt politician,” but was instead “a politician who violated tax laws.”