MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced that a grand jury has indicted Hempstead Village Trustee Perry Pettus and his associate, William Mendez, and charged them with counts of bribery, larceny, conspiracy and official misconduct.
Perry Pettus, 62, was arraigned today before Acting Supreme Court Justice Patricia Harrington and is charged with Bribe Receiving in the Second Degree (a C felony), Grand Larceny in the Second Degree (a C felony), Bribe Receiving in the Third Degree (a D felony), Attempted Grand Larceny in the Second Degree (a D felony), Attempted Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (an E felony), Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree (an E felony), Conspiracy in the Fifth Degree (an A misdemeanor) and six counts of Official Misconduct (an A misdemeanor).
Mendez, 47, also known as Jito Malania and Leocadio Molino Rios, was arraigned today before Acting Supreme Court Justice Patricia Harrington and is charged with Bribe Receiving in the Second Degree (a C felony), Attempted Grand Larceny in the Second Degree (a D felony), Attempted Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (an E felony), Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree (an E felony), Conspiracy in the Fifth Degree (an A misdemeanor) and Official Misconduct (an A misdemeanor).
Bail was set at $10,000 bond or cash for Mendez and Pettus was released on his own recognizance. The defendants are due back in court September 5. If convicted of the top charge, the defendants face a maximum sentence of five years to 15 years in prison.
“We allege that Hempstead Village Trustee Perry Pettus, a former Hempstead Deputy Mayor, threatened Hispanic-owned local businesses with summons, fines, and operating restrictions that would could drive them out of business – unless they paid him tens of thousands in bribes, through his associate and intermediary, William Mendez,” DA Singas said. “The conduct charged in this indictment – taking bribes, ordering police and enforcement agencies to target some businesses and protect others – is truly despicable. I ask that anyone who may be a victim or a witness in this case to contact the Public Corruption Bureau at 516-571-2100.”
DA Singas said that the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office initiated an investigation into Perry Pettus – a Trustee for the Village of Hempstead, former deputy mayor of the village and owner of Hubs Auto Care – in the beginning of this year after receiving credible information about an alleged bribery and extortion scheme.
According to the indictment, Pettus used his position and authority as a deputy mayor and trustee of the village to solicit bribes from local restauranteurs by threatening to have summonses issued that would jeopardize the restaurants’ business, cabaret and liquor licenses, thereby forcing the restaurants out of business.
It is alleged that Pettus and an associate, William Mendez, a local restaurant and bar owner in the Village of Hempstead, targeted Hispanic-owned businesses as part of their extortion scheme.
Mendez, who speaks Spanish, allegedly aided and assisted Pettus by meeting with victim business owners and demanding money to avoid tickets, fines, license revocations, and other actions that could jeopardize their businesses.
Mendez allegedly benefited from his relationship with Pettus by having Pettus fast-track certain business permits and licenses for Mendez. Using Village of Hempstead employees, Pettus allegedly helped Mendez increase the occupancy of one his restaurants – El Pacifico – and had village employees assist Mendez with architectural plans for a new business.
Mendez has acquired a new restaurant and renovated others that he owns since his affiliation with Pettus. Pettus also allegedly disclosed confidential police investigation information to Mendez on more than one occasion to benefit Mendez.
It is alleged that Mendez received more than $25,000.00 in bribe money from Village of Hempstead business owners between February and May 2018.
After each time an alleged bribe was paid, Mendez – who drives a red Range Rover – was observed meeting Pettus at various locations, including Pettus’ residence, Pettus’ business and inside Pettus’ vehicle. On at least one occasion Mendez allegedly entered Pettus’ Dodge Durango with a package in his hands and left the vehicle without the package. The pair also met in parking lots.
Pettus and Mendez allegedly discussed payments in coded language and specifically used the word “cookies” to refer to money.
It is alleged that Pettus made cash deposits into various bank accounts after his meetings with Mendez. Pettus ceased to be deputy mayor of the Village of Hempstead on April 2, however, he remains a trustee.
The defendants were arrested this morning by NCDA detective investigators.
The investigation is ongoing and the NCDA encourages anyone with information to contact the Public Corruption Bureau at 516-571-2100.
Senior Assistant District Attorneys Lisa Berk and Sarah Nadeau Balducci of DA Singas’ Public Corruption are prosecuting this case. Pettus is represented by Scott Druker, Esq. and Mendez is represented by Howard Arber, Esq.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless found guilty.