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Dec 15, 2010 10:28 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Ethics Complaint Targets Kratoville Appointment

Dec 15, 2010 10:28 AM

Russell Kratoville hasn’t even officially started his job as Southampton Town management services administrator yet—a nearly $150,000-per-year position he was appointed to late last month amid a cloud of controversy—yet his employment has already been called into question in the form of an ethics complaint submitted this week by a town resident.

Josef Mangiaracina of Eastport submitted a letter to the town clerk’s office, addressed to the town’s Ethics Board, this week, alleging that Mr. Kratoville, a registered Republican who was appointed by the Town Board’s Republican-Conservative majority two weeks ago, was one of several officials questioned by investigators from the Suffolk County district attorney’s office in connection with inaccurate financial disclosure statements the Riverhead Republican Committee filed with the State Board of Elections in 2004 and 2005. It also alleges that there was no financial disclosure filing made by the committee in 2006, and that the committee failed to make “fundraising deposits” during the time period when, Mr. Mangiaracina notes, Mr. Kratoville was the committee’s treasurer.

The complaint states that Mr. Kratoville, who has been a fixture in Riverhead Republican Party politics for years, should be investigated, and that the Town Board’s decision to hire him should also be looked into to see if it violates the town’s hiring policy or ethics code.

Southampton Assistant Town Attorney Joseph Burke confirmed on Tuesday that an ethics complaint was received by the town on Monday, the same day Mr. Mangiaracina said he submitted his letter. The complaint, Mr. Burke said, will be forwarded to Ethics Board Chairwoman Michele Lemoal-Gray. Mr. Burke declined to provide a copy of the complaint, but Mr. Mangiaracina provided a copy to The Press.

The five-member Ethics Board has the power to conduct investigations, administer oaths and compel witnesses, and the ability to require that certain records be produced in relation to the complaint, Mr. Burke said. The board makes a formal disposition of the complaint, which is made in a written report and forwarded to the Town Board. That report could include recommendations for disciplinary actions and penalties, he said.

In this particular case, Mr. Mangiaracina is requesting that Mr. Kratoville’s appointment be postponed until an investigation by the Ethics Board is completed, according to the complaint.

While a number sources this week have pointed to anecdotal evidence of an investigation taking place, it appears that no criminal charges were filed against Mr. Kratoville.

On Tuesday night, Mr. Kratoville said in an e-mail that he had not heard about the ethics complaint. “I have never been questioned by the Suffolk County district attorney’s office,” he stated. “I have no knowledge of a complaint filed with a town clerk.”

Mr. Mangiaracina, the resident who filed the complaint, said he has been a registered Democrat for many years, but was “registered as a blank” last year. He donated nearly $1,900 to Democratic Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming’s campaign this year. Mr. Mangiaracina declined to disclose where he got the information leading to his complaint.

Two people associated with the Riverhead Republican Committee verified this week that they were questioned by the DA’s office in regard to thousands of dollars in revenue that the committee did not accurately account for in the 2004-06 time period, and possibly over a longer time period.

Riverhead resident Tony Kotz, who described himself as a registered Democrat and political campaign organizer, said he was contacted this summer by the DA’s office about the financial statements. Although a Democrat, Mr. Kotz has worked on the campaigns of Republican candidates, including current Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter.

Mr. Kotz said that from the information he received while being questioned by two investigators from the DA’s office, he discerned that the committee collected “thousands and thousands of dollars” more than was accounted for over a certain number of years. Many things still remain unclear, such as the range of years in question, as well as the amount of money being examined. He said that about a year and a half ago, committee members determined that a large sum of money was missing.

“The allegation is that there is a great deal of missing money from the Riverhead Republican Committee,” he said. “And I’m not talking about any one campaign. I’m talking about the committee itself that is the umbrella group that would run campaigns … The allegation is that oodles of cash was taken in and was not accounted for. And, of course, when you’re talking about Russell, they would say, ‘You were the treasurer at the time, and how would you not know that?’”

Riverhead Republican Chairwoman Nancy Reyer declined to comment on the matter on Tuesday night, hanging up on a reporter who reached her cell phone after stating, “I’m at a party right now, I can’t talk.”

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Oooh-The plot thickens!
By tenn tom (255), remsenburg on Dec 16, 10 8:02 AM
No worries, the Town Board has complete faith that he's the right man for the job, they looked at his resume two years ago. They should ask Kratoville to withdraw his name from consideration. What a discrace! Here's a suggestion to the Board: Go back to serving the best interests of the people and NOT your party. There may not be anything in it for you other than the fact that you did the right thing and you served honorably. I'm sick of the party politics!
By hurricane24 (5), westhampton on Dec 16, 10 11:30 AM
4 members liked this comment
Q-- Now how does the Kratoville appointment help the people of Southampton?
A--By creating a job that will be with us for YEARS and YEARS at an annual cost of at least $150,000. Do the math and in 10 years these three monkeys will have cost all of us a cool $1,500,000 – that's one and a half million dollars not counting any "raises" that they can throw in to sweeten his honey-pot of a deal.
By EastEndHomie (27), Southampton on Dec 16, 10 12:13 PM
maybe they'll also perform renovations on his house like they did for the school guy in Tuckahoe. And while we're at it, let's give him the right to take 2nd and 3rd jobs like the cops...
By littleplains (305), olde england on Dec 17, 10 4:48 PM
He will fit in well and is the right person for the job,after all he will have the wisdom of Mr Blows to fall back on,,all we need is another political hack,do you agree Chris Jim and Nancy.
By Christy (2), Hampton Bays on Dec 16, 10 5:35 PM
Ahem! Apart from everything else that's wrong with this appointment (and there's a lot), now we see the danger of naming someone to a high-paying and sensitive Town job without having him/her go through any vetting process. This person will have access to lots of money and lots of confidential information. When you throw the book out the window the way the majority Robo Republicans did on this one, you throw out some very important protections. Just focusing on doing the bidding of the party ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1966), Quiogue on Dec 16, 10 8:00 PM
2 members liked this comment
he was vetted. The 4 of them had drinks and fance dinner one night... guess who probably paid the bill?
By littleplains (305), olde england on Dec 17, 10 4:49 PM

I propose we bring back Skip Heaney for 2011 so we can have another disastrous financial disaster with all the attendant accounting shenanigans that we can see clearly coming down the pike as we saw in the Heaney/Blowes era!

I'm suddenly feeling nostalgic about the good ol' days. Altogether now, sing
"Happy days are here again.......".
By Common Sense (56), Southampton on Dec 16, 10 10:28 PM
heaney won't be back...he's got some no thought no work position at the county center in riverhead....walks around the hall with a clipboard in hand...or a cuppa-coffee...he's entitled to his benefits isn't he?....
By uncleronk (136), southold on Dec 17, 10 8:39 AM
Unbelievable! What is going on here? They bring in this guy who sued Riverhead for firing him, and his wife claimed "loss of sexual intimacy" (SH Press, 12/9/10). Same guy can't say what happened to who-knows-how-much Party money because the records "were destroyed in a flood" (SH Press, 12/16/10). You can't make this stuff up.
By clam pie (161), Westhampton on Dec 17, 10 11:15 AM
1 member liked this comment
What NO comment from Nancy,,,dont say she but him under the bus,,,,,,,
By Etians rd (542), Southampton on Dec 17, 10 11:28 AM
Newsday reported today that the NAACP is looking into this also. There is a real case of discrimnation when you leave everyone else out of the hiring practice. The outcome is Russell will never serve one day in this position. Here comes another lawsuit. Thanks Nancy.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Dec 17, 10 11:40 AM
2 members liked this comment
This is the worst case of brazen back-room politicking that I've ever seen in Southampton, and that's saying a lot, because this town has been under the thumb of a venal crowd of Republicans for a very long time. This one takes the cake, though -- no posting of an open job, no competition, no screening of candidates, no background check, just a premature press release followed the next day by a mechanical vote of three stone-faced hacks to put one of their tribe on the public dole.

And ...more
By fidelis (199), westhampton beach on Dec 17, 10 2:40 PM
Let's look ahead here. Chris Nuzzi and Nancy Graboski are term-limited and can't repeat on the Town Board, but either of them could run for Supervisor in 2011. So could Jim Malone. Given the Kratoville scandal (on top of a lot of other things), none of them should get that job. The two Town Board seats that are up for election in 2011 are Nancy Graboski's and Bridget Fleming's. Ms. Fleming deserves credit for strongly opposing the Kratoville appointment. Ms. Graboski, as noted, can't run for ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1966), Quiogue on Dec 17, 10 3:02 PM
1 member liked this comment
Meanwhile the Press is reporting investigations into the Riverhead Republican Committee for missing money and unreported donations.

I wonder how that money was spent. Certainly not on the campaigns of Nuzzi, Grabowski and Malone ...
By Noah Way (450), Southampton on Dec 17, 10 8:43 PM
Don't worry about the funding for Republican candidates, they collect plenty of money from those who need access to town hall. I think Nuzzi spent a hundred thousand dollars on his last campaign. How do they make sooo much money......what do the contributors get in return?
We have our own GOP political machine operating here in Southampton Town!
By SHNative (554), Southampton on Dec 18, 10 9:53 AM
I read a great deal of partisan griping here, but my sense is that the condemnation of the voting bloc in respect to the revised budget and the Kratoville appointment,should cross all party lines.

By repeated harping on "Robo Republicans" and the " GOP political machine," those practitioners run the risk of marginalizing the dialog, something you really don't want to do if remedial progress is to be made.

This is an easy political (in the public relations sense) battle to win, ...more
By Frank Wheeler (1823), Northampton on Dec 18, 10 2:21 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Turkey Bridge (1966), Quiogue on Dec 19, 10 1:20 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Turkey Bridge (1966), Quiogue on Dec 19, 10 1:30 PM
Mr. Wheeler, you seem to want those of us who are troubled by this scandal to go easy on the perpetrators. Why? You're bothered by "partisan griping," but guess what? This is partisan, indeed nakedly partisan. So no, I don't call these people the impersonal "voting bloc" as you do, I call them what they are, the only two Republicans and the lone Conservative on the Town Board, acting in concert as a partisan majority, the Robo Republicans mechanically doing the bidding of the party bosses.

Chris ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1966), Quiogue on Dec 19, 10 1:26 PM
> "I think you're just having a hard time coming down on your guys (& girl)"

See, you ARE more interested in playing partisan politics than in condemning the actions of the "triumvirate," George.

Stop the partisan blustering and posturing, the TV cameras are off.

Again, the sense of outrage crosses all political affiliation -- or at least it does in my corner of the Town. Don't you trust that it has elsewhere?

Of course, if you prefer to continue playing the ...more
By Frank Wheeler (1823), Northampton on Dec 20, 10 12:35 AM
2 members liked this comment
Frank….When is the one party rule going to end?
The entire town is run by the GOP. I mean the jobs, the board (s) and the management.....it's all Republican…..and they are partisan. I personally believe that we should have more balance in town hall. This one-party-rule in Southampton Town is the reason why the Republican majority believes that they can commit such blatant transgressions.
So to dismiss these protest as “partisan” is to allow the ruling party the latitude ...more
By SHNative (554), Southampton on Dec 20, 10 8:45 AM
It doesn't seem as if you have much institutional knowledge of Southampton Town, despite your chosen "SHNative" identity.

The GOP has been in power for as long as I can remember -- except when it wasn't.

And what happened when the GOP didn't rule the roost? Perhaps you should research that a bit.

There should always be "balance in town hall," and there is at the moment. Two GOP, one each Conservative and Democrat, and one Independent who was elected as a Democrat.

How ...more
By Frank Wheeler (1823), Northampton on Dec 20, 10 2:04 PM
When was the GOP not in charge? Was that when Suskind (Republican turned Democrat...skips pal) was on the board? In fact when did the Democrats control Southampton Town HAll? The fact is, the Republicans are partisan and are acting with impunity.
So....to dismiss these protest as “partisan” is to allow the ruling party the latitude ...more to do whatever they want.
Come on Frank...You have got to see that.
By SHNative (554), Southampton on Dec 21, 10 10:24 AM
As I have already noted, you have very little institutional knowledge of Southampton Town.

So, go ahead and persist in making this a "Republican thing," and you will turn off any possibility of garnering bi-partisan support for these outrageous actions.

But that's all right, SHNative, you're young and enjoy making a lot of noise, and don't yet realize that you're accomplishing nothing constructive.
Dec 21, 10 12:10 PM appended by Frank Wheeler
Make that: "garnering bi-partisan support against these outrageous actions."
By Frank Wheeler (1823), Northampton on Dec 21, 10 12:10 PM
@ Frank: "So....to dismiss these protest as “partisan” is to allow the ruling party the latitude ...more to do whatever they want."

The ruling party is the majority. They did what they wanted before the protest, and the protest does not give them latitude. All three have remained silent on the hiring, except supervisor candidate Groboski, who is busy trying to cover her ass.
By Noah Way (450), Southampton on Dec 25, 10 11:33 AM
Ok....fair enough. Thank you for your critique.
I will follow your direction in this matter.
By SHNative (554), Southampton on Dec 21, 10 3:49 PM
This "force," this "coalition," this "bi-partisan support" that you're talking about, what would it look like, Petey? You've written some thoughtful material here, and forgive me if I'm a little uneasy with you by my side (be assured I'm smiling as I type this), but what would it look like at the undeniable end of the road, in the polling place?

Let's take a voter who has heard the word, who is mightily offended by what you call "this outrageous budget -- Kratoville business," who feels ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1966), Quiogue on Dec 21, 10 9:05 PM
I can understand your uneasiness, George -- let's just say it's shared. :) But the enemy of my enemy is someone with whom I can man the barricades,

And I think we can agree to a large degree that the way the triumvirate has comported itself in this shameful budget-Kratoville matter is the enemy of any of us who pay taxes in this Town and are not on the patronage dole.

Look at the registration numbers -- they don't overwhelmingly favor the GOP as they used to.

And that ...more
By Frank Wheeler (1823), Northampton on Dec 21, 10 11:56 PM
OK....what now?
By SHNative (554), Southampton on Dec 23, 10 4:55 PM
Now, just as Mr. Wheeler and I have been saying in our different ways, people should stand up and protest. The Town Board meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 28 at 6:00 PM would be a good place to start (actually, to continue a process already started). And don't think that it won't do any good -- even if, as likely, the Nuzzi/Graboski/Malone majority stonewalls as in the past, they can't do that forever. If there is substantial and fervent opposition expressed at meeting after meeting, something has to ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1966), Quiogue on Dec 26, 10 12:23 PM
CORRECTION on that time I gave out above. As so often, the Town Board is presenting a moving target, and the website shows the meeting scheduled for 10:00 AM on Dec. 28. They're closed because of the weather today, but the recording says Town Hall will reopen at 8:30 tomorrow, Dec. 28, so it seems the meeting will go on, though many citizens may not be dug out yet. A convenient way to duck the people's wrath, yes?
By Turkey Bridge (1966), Quiogue on Dec 27, 10 2:31 PM
The way to put a stop to all this is very simple: stop paying for it. It's time for a tax revolt - not tea-bagger style, but a real grass roots movement that refuses to fund unresponsive and irresponsible government.
By Noah Way (450), Southampton on Dec 26, 10 4:18 PM
News Alert,,,,,,,,,It is offecial,,,,,,,,,We now have Kratovillgate in Southampton Town Hall,,,let the chips fall where they may
By Etians rd (542), Southampton on Jan 6, 11 1:25 PM
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