County Legislator Alleges Political Corruption

Jul 15, 2013

From left to right, Legislator Frank Sparaco; Rockland County Republican Chairman Vincent Reda; Clarkstown Highway Superintendent Wayne Ballard; Clarkstown Republican Committee Chairman Bob Axelrod
Credit WAMC/Allison Dunne

It’s the latest political scandal following months of intrigue in Albany and the Hudson Valley. Members of the Rockland County Republican Committee say they have uncovered an alleged bribery scheme that crosses party lines. A Rockland County legislator says he secretly taped conversations that portray the alleged bribery attempt. And now one of those allegedly involved says he is filing suit.

Frank Sparaco is a Republican Rockland County legislator and part-time employee of the Clarkstown Highway Department.

Sparaco says he was approached many times over the next several months by Borelli, Malone, a Democrat, and an attorney for the Rockland County Democratic Party, Larry Weissman, and offered a salary raise and benefits under Malone if Malone were elected. Or, says Sparaco, he would be destroyed if he did not cooperate. Here’s Rockland County Republican Party Chairman Vincent Reda.

A spokeswoman for the FBI in New York would neither confirm nor deny an investigation. As to why the county GOP did not turn the tapes over to or inform the Rockland County district attorney, Reda replies:

Calls to Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe, a member of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s new Moreland “Commission to Investigate Public Corruption,” were not returned in time for this broadcast.

In an e-mailed statement, Councilman Frank Borelli says the snippets of conservation that were taped were highly edited and an attempt to assassinate his character because he decided to back a candidate for highway superintendent other than Republican incumbent Wayne Ballard. Borelli says he is now moving forward with a defamation of character lawsuit because of the political hatchet job and smear campaign against him. Borelli alleges it was Sparaco who was engaging in attempted pay-to-play politics.

Sparaco alleges that he was told to disappear on a paid vacation to Florida or the Jersey shore for the month of July, and he would receive about $70,000 and job security.

He says if he went away in July, it stood to reason that he could not help incumbent Ballard with third party lines.

Bennett Gershman is a professor at Pace University School of Law in Westchester County and a former prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney’s office. He says from what he can tell, there is nothing illegal about the secret recordings.

Nicole Doliner is chair of the Clarkstown Democratic Committee, which backs candidate Dennis Malone for Clarkstown highway superintendent. She declined to comment, citing not having heard or seen the tapes. Calls to Rockland County Democratic Chairwoman Kristin Stavisky, who was implicated in the alleged plot, were not returned in time for this broadcast. Weissman could not be reached, though was quoted in media reports as declining to comment on the allegations.