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Posted on: August 25, 2020

Paving Company Owner Sentenced for Paying Oyster Bay Official to Approve Housing Development

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MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced today that the owner of a prominent Long Island paving company was sentenced to a three-year conditional discharge for bribing an Oyster Bay commissioner to help facilitate the construction of the Cantiague Commons senior housing development.

Elia “Aly” Lizza, 72, of Oyster Bay Cove, pleaded guilty on January 16 before Judge Charles Wood to one count of bribery in the second degree (a C felony). In addition to his conditional discharge sentence, Elia Lizza also paid $350,000 to settle a civil forfeiture action brought against him by the NCDA’s Civil Forfeiture Bureau. The NCDA recommended a sentence of one to three years in prison.

Carlo Lizza & Sons Paving, Inc. – a defunct paving company owned by Elia Lizza – was sentenced to a conditional discharge. The company pleaded guilty on January 16 to one count of bribery in the second degree (a C felony).

Frank Antetomaso, 80, of Massapequa, pleaded guilty today to disorderly conduct (a violation).

The case against Marisa Lizza, 65, was dismissed today. She was exculpated when her husband, Elia Lizza pled guilty.

“This case exposed a brazen pay-to-play culture in Oyster Bay Government that included bribery, rampant nepotism and illegal favors for the friends and family of those in power,” DA Singas said. “Elia Lizza – a wealthy business owner and now a convicted felon – was an active participant in that corrupt TOBAY system and bribed a government official to secure a multi-million-dollar property deal to develop senior housing in Hicksville. This investigation exposed how a dysfunctional government in Oyster Bay benefited crooked contractors and local officials, while honest taxpayers and business owners who played by the rules were shut out. I thank the prosecutors and detectives of our Public Corruption Bureau for uncovering this massive bribery scheme.”

DA Singas said that according to the indictment, Elia Lizza - President of Carlo Lizza & Sons Paving, Inc, issued approximately $1.6 million worth of checks from 2009 to 2016 from personal accounts to Frederick Ippolito, who was serving as Commissioner of Planning and Development for the Town of Oyster Bay.

Elia Lizza made these payments to Ippolito for his role in negotiating anticipated payments of more than $20 million dollars to Elia Lizza from the developer of Cantiague Commons – a $150 million residential housing complex for seniors – while Ippolito was simultaneously controlling the oversight of the developer’s rezoning application and site plan approval.

To be developed, Cantiague Commons needed the approval of the Town of Oyster Bay Town Board to grant an application to rezone the property, which was zoned for light industrial, for residential use. As the Commissioner of Planning and Development, Ippolito had substantial control and influence over any potential real estate developments within the town.

To further facilitate the Cantiague Commons deal, Ippolito negotiated the sale of 50 Engel Street to the Town of Oyster Bay.

Carlo Lizza & Sons Paving, Inc., operated an asphalt plant at 50 Engel Street in Hicksville, near the proposed Cantiague Commons project. The town would not approve the re-zoning application for Cantiague Commons given the proximity to the asphalt plant.

Ippolito allegedly used town employees and resources to draft agreements among Elia Lizza and other family members. Ippolito and Former Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto advocated to the town board on behalf of Elia Lizza in connection with the subject application and concealed Ippolito’s financial interest in the Cantiague Commons project.

On December 18, 2012, the town board conditionally granted the rezoning application.

According to the indictment, Ippolito gave his recommendation to the Board to approve the rezoning of the property on West John Street in Hicksville while failing to disclose to the Board his financial interest in Cantiague Commons. Ippolito allegedly worked closely with Lizza family members and their contractors to develop Cantiague Commons to ensure that Elia Lizza received more than $20 million dollars.

Ippolito failed to report the payments from the Lizza family, as well as additional payments which pre-dated his TOB employment, to the Internal Revenue Service, and he was indicted in March 2015.

Once Ippolito was indicted by a federal grand jury, Elia Lizza and Ippolito ceased communicating directly. Frank Antetomaso – a former Town of Oyster Bay official and principal of engineering firm Sidney Bowne that was working on the Cantiague Commons project – allegedly passed messages between Ippolito and Elia Lizza.

According to the indictment, the payments to Ippolito originated from a Carlo Lizza & Sons bank account and were then sent through the personal checking account of Elia Lizza before they were made to Ippolito.

Ippolito pleaded guilty on January 26, 2016, to one count of Tax Evasion in federal court for tax year 2008 and was sentenced to 27 months’ imprisonment on September 28, 2016. He passed away in June 2017 before he was arraigned on grand jury indictment charges.

Supervisor Venditto pleaded guilty to Corrupt Use of Position or Authority (an E felony) and Official Misconduct (an A misdemeanor) in July 2019.

The original indictment charged the defendants with more than two hundred counts. Upon the death of Frederick Ippolito after the indictment, all but 40 counts were dismissed as having been abated by Ippolito’s death. Elia Lizza was allowed to plead to one count-the highest count- Bribery in the Second Degree in the interest of judicial economy.

This investigation and prosecution was the result of the joint efforts of several members of DA Singas’ Public Corruption Bureau, including lead prosecutor and Senior Investigative Counsel, Jesse Aviram, Detective Investigator Gavin Shea, Executive Assistant District Attorney Charles Testagrossa, Bureau Chief Christine Maloney, Deputy Bureau Chief Robert Cavallo, and Counsel to the Investigations Division Stuart Levy as well as Deputy Chief Dan Bresnahan and Senior Appellate Attorney Hilda Mortensen. Chief Rebecca Winer and Deputy Chief Joseph Dompkowski of DA Singas’ Civil Forfeiture Bureau assisted in obtaining the $350,000 from the civil forfeiture action.

Elia Lizza is represented by John Carman, Esq., Marisa Lizza is represented by Marc Gann, Esq. Carlo Lizza and Sons Paving, Inc. is represented by Stephen Scaring and Frank Antetomaso is represented by Joseph Conway, Esq.

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