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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Focus on New York's Center of Corruption Worries Legal Community

The Troubled 9th Judicial District, encompasses Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Orange and Dutchess Counties.....

Law firm named in Putnam subpoenas gave tens of thousands of dollars to political efforts
The Journal News by Timothy O'Connor - December 5, 2010
A few weeks before FBI agents seized building records for state Sen. Vincent Leibell's home, they served a subpoena on the town of Carmel looking for records related to legal services provided by a White Plains law firm. And they served a subpoena on Putnam County looking for similar records for the firm — Servino, Santangelo and Randazzo. One of its lawyers was politically connected attorney Anthony Mangone, whose guilty plea in federal court Nov. 29 to corruption and tax charges is seen as a precursor to the expected guilty plea of Leibell. The now-defunct firm and its successor, Santangelo, Randazzo and Mangone, contributed more than $28,000 to politicians and political groups between 2001 and 2007, state records show. But the law firm was not a household name for every politician in January 2004 when the Carmel Town Board named it to replace its longtime attorney, Thomas Costello. "I bitterly, tremendously, vocally opposed it," said Robert Ravallo, a Republican member of the town board for 23 years. "I was totally unfamiliar with that law firm and felt we had a very good attorney who should be re-appointed." But Ravallo said the majority faction on the all-Republican Town Board led by then-Supervisor Robert Pozzi wanted the Servino firm. Ravallo said he was not sure why Pozzi wanted to switch. Pozzi, who served as supervisor from 2004 to 2006, could not be reached for comment Friday. He told The Journal News in 2004 that he didn't have a working relationship with Costello, but knew Servino's firm from his time as a Putnam County legislator.

Legal Duties

Servino, Santangelo, and Randazzo had handled most of the county's outside legal work since 2000. Servino, Santangelo and Mangone have all been registered Republicans; voter records for Randazzo were not available. In 2004, the firm would go on to bill the county for $365,515 — more than any other law firm for the county. The federal subpoena served on the town in May also demanded Pozzi's financial disclosure reports. Mangone joined the Servino firm some time in early 2002, the same year he admitted under oath he opened sealed absentee ballots and wrote in the names of state Sen. Nicholas Spano, R-Yonkers, and another Republican candidate on the Green Party line. Mangone was the Republican Westchester County deputy election commissioner as well as the chief of staff and campaign manager for Spano. Mangone was never convicted of any crime. He had struck a secret deal with the office of Westchester County District Attorney Jeanine Pirro to plead guilty to a single misdemeanor to satisfy any indictment lodged against him. But a grand jury that heard evidence in the case voted not to indict him.

More Political Ties

He was not the only member of the firm with political connections. Servino had served as an assistant district attorney and was a colleague of then-Putnam County Attorney Carl Lodes, through whom the firm received its county work. Santangelo was close to Albert J. Pirro, the Republican lawyer and husband of the district attorney. Santangelo represented Pirro during his federal tax fraud trial in 2000. Pirro was convicted and served 11 months in a federal prison. In 2006, Jeanine Pirro admitted she was under federal investigation for trying to plant a listening device on her husband's boat. She thought he was cheating on her. Published reports said the suspected other woman was Michael Santangelo's wife, Lisa. Santangelo, who now has his own law practice in White Plains, did not return calls seeking comment. Pirro and Randazzo, who has a firm in Rye Brook now, also did not return calls seeking comment. Servino could not be reached for comment. In January 2006, Servino left the firm to rejoin the district attorney's office, signing on as Janet DiFiore's chief of the appeals and special litigation unit. He left the office this summer, taking a buyout. Three days after Servino's appointment was announced, the firm was re-christened Santangelo, Randazzo and Mangone. It continued to support Republican candidates. Between 2001 and 2006, the firm gave $8,300 to Nicholas Spano. Leibell received $4,825 in contributions.

Pleading Guilty

Leibell, a Republican from Patterson, resigned from the Senate on Thursday night. He also will not be sworn in as Putnam County executive next month, the office to which he was elected in November. A source close to him said he is going to plead guilty this week to federal corruption charges. He was spotted Friday at the federal courthouse in White Plains. If he does plead guilty, he will become the second political conviction in a federal investigation that began nearly four years ago as a probe into the Yonkers City Council's handling of the controversial $630 million Ridge Hill development project. Mangone, former Yonkers GOP Chairman Zehy Jereis and former Yonkers Democratic City Councilwoman Sandy Annabi were indicted in January. At Mangone's guilty plea Nov. 29, a federal judge sealed his plea agreement with prosecutors at the request of Mangone's lawyer, leading to speculation that he had signed a cooperation deal with federal investigators. He pleaded guilty to giving Jereis $30,000 in the spring of 2006 that he believed was going to be passed on to Annabi as a bribe to get her to switch her vote on the Longfellow School redevelopment project. That same year, Mangone was appointed special counsel to Patterson Town Planning Board for the Patterson Crossing project, a 410,560-square-foot shopping center planned for the Patterson-Kent border. In June 2008, he wrote a letter in support of his firm's reappointment to the $175-an-hour contract. "Our firm … serves as counsel to several real estate developers and as such, we have a unique familiarity with the vast array of issues associated with the planning and development process," he wrote. The board unanimously approved his reappointment. TPOCONNOR@LOHUD.COM


30-year-plus westchester attorney said...

Pirro, Spano, Lippman, Nicholai. Just a few names that come to mind. They all live in Westchester and have turned the Westchester legal community into a corrupt mob-run, organized crime styled, money-making machine for their own benefit. Throw them all in prison.

smallworld said...

Hey is that Randazzo related to the Sheryl Randazzo who is connected to my crooked receiver a/k/a Louis C. England??

A+B= said...

We need to chart the connections like they do the MOB...

Anonymous said...

Follow the money. Right, Mr. and Mrs. Pirro?

Anonymous said...

Didn't O'Rourke get moved up to Putnam?

Wonder if there is any connection?

Anonymous said...

Maybe the FBI could get Julian Assange to help them get the information they need to untangle the corrupt mess that is in NY?

Anonymous said...

Tony Mangone is a known bagman and fixer. Word is he talking which is getting a great many prople upset. Bookings now available for Club Fed. Big Al Pirro the felon can give all his minions tips on how to deal with situations.

Anonymous said...

Bernadette E. Lupinetti, Esq. from Goshen, New York is known as the "Pimp of Orange County" Selling children in child custody cases for sexual exploitation. I have yet to see a single law agency investigating all allegations against this pimp.

But I guess when your husband was an ADA working in corruption investigations for Andrew Cuomo. You spouse can engage in child trafficking without sweating it.

Where are the FEDS arresting this criminal for these allegations?? You know this pimp is trying to be admitted in California to sell more children there..

Anonymous said...

the 30 yr plus attorney makes a very interesting comment. the concept / facts however should not be localized to Westchester but instead look at how these "players" impacted / ran / controlled matters on the State level. obviously Lippman is Statewide Judge now.

hudson valley region

Anonymous said...

Let's not forget that the attorney, Mike Santangelo's wife, was the "woman" on Big Al P's boat! You remember. the one she wanted Kerik to bug! lol

Anonymous said...

Santangelo is as dirty as they come. Wonder when they will come for him

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