September 13, 2021

Using a public office or position of trust for personal gain or advantage

In a press release dated September 10, 2021 captioned Corrupt Orange County IDA officials ordered to repay over $1 million, New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli and Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler announced that three former officials of the Orange County Industrial Development Agency [IDA], who pleaded guilty in June to corruption charges, including hiding self-dealing and concealing conflicts of interest, were to pay more than $1 million in restitution.  Orange County Court Judge Robert Prisco presided over the sentencing.

Vincent Cozzolino was sentenced to five years probation and on September 10, 2021 paid $1 million in restitution for his conviction of Corrupting the Government in the third degree, a class D felony. Also on September 10, 2021, Laurie Villasuso paid $175,000 in restitution based on her conviction of Corrupting the Government in the fourth degree, a class E felony.

Edward Diana was sentenced upon his conviction of two counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the second degree and one count of Engaging Prohibited Conflict of Interest, both class A misdemeanors. On September 10, 2021, the former county executive paid full restitution in the amount of $90,000.

Comptroller DiNapoli and D.A. Hoovler also released a report detailing the defendants’ crimes and how the systemic failures and neglect of duty by the IDA board and its officials enabled their scheme. 

Click HEREto access this 91 page publication.

The practice of using a public office or position of trust for personal gain or advantage is sometimes referred to as "Jobbery."

The press release reported:

 1. The investigation revealed that former IDA Managing Director Cozzolino entered into a series of contracts (funneled through his company, Galileo Technology Group) with the IDA with vague and seemingly overlapping responsibilities affording him complete control of the Accelerator Program;

2. To further cement his power and despite blatant conflicts of interest, former CEO Villasuso and former board member and Accelerator Committee Chair Diana, were “hired” by Cozzolino’s private company, which received millions in payment from the IDA. Villasuso and Diana were the two IDA officials primarily charged with overseeing the Accelerator program.  Diana admitted to receiving $90,000 in payments from Cozzolino’s firm for merely attending 20 meetings and “a couple” of phone calls;

3. The IDA’s board abdicated its fiduciary duty and acted as a mere rubber stamp for Cozzolino which he exploited for his personal gain and the enrichment of his co-conspirators; and 

4. The IDA board failed to review contracts, invoices or engage in any meaningful oversight which may have exposed the malfeasance. 

Comptroller DiNapoli and District Attorney Hoovler issued a number of recommendations in the report for the new board to implement and to ensure effective review and to promote enhanced IDA governance. 

This investigation was conducted in partnership between the Office of the State Comptroller’s Division of Investigations, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office and the Town of New Windsor Police Department.

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