WE NEED YOUR HELP — Support your hometown newspaper by making a donation.

Judge delays Ambrosino’s prison sentence over coronavirus concerns

Posted

A United States district court judge has agreed to delay the prison sentence of former Town of Hempstead Councilman Edward Ambrosino by three months over concerns of the dangers posed by the coronavirus, according to documents filed with the court.

Ambrosino, a Republican from Valley Stream, had been originally scheduled to begin his six-month prison sentence for tax evasion on June 15. Instead, Judge Joanna Seybert of the Eastern District has allowed a request from his attorney, James Druker, to postpone the start of Ambrosino’s imprisonment to Sept. 15.

Druker had initially sought for Ambrosino to begin his sentence in home confinement during the peak of the coronavirus outbreak, according to documents filed with the court in April. He cited a case of “double pneumonia” his client had suffered at birth, which he said made him particularly vulnerable to Covid-19. The request was denied.

Ambrosino was sentenced on Nov. 15, and in addition to prison time he is to serve three years of supervised release. 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 nearly $255,000 to the Internal Revenue Service.

He 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.

Ambrosino 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, 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.”