The Grand Jury relied on an attorney with a conflict of interest for expert opinion, and ignored the state’s highest ethics experts who agreed with the Executive.
The Grand Jury report was inaccurate in stating that I had to file the county form after already filing the state form. The grand jury members are generally not lawyers and they were relying on legal analysis from individuals who had massive conflicts of interest. One of those advisors was purported to be former Chief Deputy County Executive Paul Sabatino, who admitted to Newsday that he testified. This is the same Paul Sabatino who had been seeking to discredit the ethics commission over a three year period as it deliberated upon a complaint that he had violated the County’s ethics code by working with the union and suing the county within two years of his termination. Sabatino, inferred by Newsday to be County Official B, was presented in the grand jury report as an esteemed expert. On Page 7, the report states “The Grand Jury heard testimony from County Official B who worked for nearly 30 years as an attorney in different capacities for Suffolk County, he was involved in drafting language for many legislative resolutions. He described further efforts to fine-tune the financial disclosure statute.”
Nowhere in the Grand Jury report was it mentioned that Sabatino had ample motive to discredit the ethics commission or to extract retribution upon me due to my administration’s request for this opinion.
Newsday had earlier reported that the Grand Jury also heard testimony from Anton Borovina “on the history of ethics regulation in Suffolk.” What was not mentioned was that Borovina was not only wrong on the law, he had a huge conflict, in that he has associated in business dealings with Sabatino, as well as being his lawyer in the case before the ethics commission that members of my administration brought against Sabatino. Attached is a letter expressing concern about Borovina’s involvement in the investigation of the ethics commission – the very commission that was holding hearings regarding his client, Mr. Sabatino (see attachment).
Moreover, Borovina was the attorney for Comptroller Joseph Sawicki in the case Sawicki brought against ethics director Alfred Lama (see attachment). The Grand Jury centered much of its review on the Lama matter, and nowhere was it mentioned that Borovina (who claims to have testified as an ethics expert) was Lama’s legal adversary. Conflicts never seemed to deter Borovina. In fact, he was so brazen in his conflicted behavior that he had the gall to aggressively apply for the position of legal counsel to the legislature’s investigation of the ethics commission, at the same time he was representing clients before that body.
It speaks volumes to the motives of the legislature’s investigative panel that it came so extraordinarily close to actually appointing Borovina to lead the investigation against the very commission he was simultaneously appearing before on behalf of Mr. Sabatino.
With all the highly respected independent ethics experts throughout New York State, the Grand Jury apparently relied on these two conflicted individuals who had been bashing the ethics commission for the past two years.