Nassau County DA Denis Dillon (left) announces the arrest of former county employee Shomwa Shamapande. Also pictured is deputy bureau chief Marshall Trager, who is supervising the investigation.
A former Nassau County employee was arrested last week for allegedly defrauding the taxpayers by at least $12,000. Legislative minority leader Peter Schmitt believes there may be another instance of wrongdoing and called on County Executive Tom Suozzi to place one of his top deputies on a leave of absence. Suozzi's office though, believes Schmitt is just playing politics as the race of county executive begins to heat up.
Last week, Nassau County District Attorney Denis Dillon announced the arrest of Shomwa Shamapande, 32, of Manhattan and charged him with third degree grand larceny as well as six counts of offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree.
Shamapande, a former county employee who was hired June 25, 2003 as a seasonal clerk, is being accused of filing time sheets for pay during a time when he was no longer performing any work or services for the county.
According to Dillon, Shamapande was hired for $25 an hour and while he was designated on paper to the Office of Management and Budget, he was hired to work with Deputy County Executive Michael Klein in the Department of Parks, Recreation and Museums, performing such tasks as event planning and public relations.
According to Dillon, after Jan. 1, 2005, Shamapande's work for the county continually diminished until approximately March when he was no longer performing any work, labor or services for the county, with the exception of May 1 relating to the Long Island Marathon.
Dillon is alleging that Shamapande continued to file time sheets for records ending March 17 through May 26 in which he falsely stated that he had performed work.
Schmitt, the leader of the Republican caucus of the Nassau County Legislature and perhaps Suozzi's harshest critic, believes there is more abuse when it comes to time sheets.
At a press conference last week, Schmitt called on Suozzi to place chief deputy county executive Anthony Cancellieri on a leave of absence because of his involvement with time sheets.
On Friday, April 15, Klein, who has since resigned his position as deputy county executive, was at the New York State Assembly/Senate Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force conference in Albany.
However, Schmitt believes that Klein was in Albany campaigning for Suozzi in a quest to be state governor. Klein filed a time sheet in which he indicated that he worked from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on April 15.
In addition, financial filings for Friends of Tom Suozzi, the county executive's campaign fund, indicate that $287.75 was paid to the Crown Plaza Hotel in Albany that day. Schmitt believes the hotel charge indicates Klein was attending a political meeting. "You can't be working in Nassau County government, being paid by the taxpayers of Nassau County and at the same time be in Albany for a political meeting paid for by a political committee," said Schmitt.
The time sheet Klein filed was signed by Cancellieri. Schmitt therefore is requesting Cancellieri be given a leave of absence pending further investigation.
In response, spokesperson for the county executive, Arda Nazerian, said that Klein's presence in Albany was purely governmental and believes Schmitt's allegations that Klein was campaigning for Suozzi while being paid by the county is political.
Nazerian provided the agenda for the New York State Assembly/Senate Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force, which shows such workshops as "Hispanic Seniors Advocacy Workshop," "Consumer Protection for the Elderly," "Helping the Uninsured Get Access to Medicines They Need," and "Medicare Changes and Their Impact on the Hispanic Community." The conference took place from Friday, April 15 to Sunday, April 17.
In the case of the $287.75 charge to the Friends of Tom Suozzi, Nazerian said it was for a room for hospitality receptions and networking and believes the room was charged to Suozzi's campaign as opposed to the county to make certain there was no impropriety.
According to Dillon, the arrest of Shamapande is part of an ongoing investigation conducted by the DA's Special Investigations Bureau. "This investigation will continue until I am confident that we have eradicated this violation of the public trust," Dillon said.