Town Of Hempstead Councilman Edward Ambrosino Indicted For Wire Fraud And Tax Evasion
An eight-count indictment was unsealed today in United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York charging Edward Ambrosino with wire fraud, tax evasion, making and subscribing to false corporate tax returns, and failing to file a return or pay tax. The indictment was returned under seal by a federal grand jury sitting in Central Islip, New York on March 28, 2017. Ambrosino was arrested this morning and will be arraigned this afternoon before United States District Judge Joanna Seybert at the federal courthouse in Central Islip, New York.
The charges were announced by Bridget M. Rohde, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), and Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Kathy A. Enstrom, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI).
“As alleged in the indictment, the defendant, an elected public official, defrauded his former employer and committed a variety of tax offenses,” stated Acting United States Attorney Rohde. “Today’s indictment is a reminder of the obvious, that public officials are not exempt from paying their fair share of taxes and otherwise complying with the laws of the United States, just like any other citizen.”
“In this case as charged, Ambrosino’s crimes claimed as a victim, the law firm for whom he worked,” stated Assistant Director in Charge Sweeney. “As alleged, he also committed tax fraud, all the while serving as an elected public official. The FBI is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to ensure this type of behavior ceases to exist, no matter who is at fault.”
“The IRS enforces the nation’s tax laws, but also takes particular interest in cases where someone, for their own personal benefit, has taken what belonged to others. The indictment alleges, Mr. Ambrosino intentionally sought to undermine the tax laws of the United States, violate the public trust while ignoring the fiduciary responsibility he has with his employer,” stated Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Enstrom.
As detailed in the indictment, Ambrosino was an attorney licensed to practice in New York State, specializing in economic and industrial development and financings. Between approximately November 2001 and December 2015, he was “Of Counsel” at a law firm based in Uniondale, New York (the “Law Firm”). In addition, since March 2003, Ambrosino has served as a Councilman for the Town of Hempstead, New York. Since 2010, he has also acted as Special Counsel to the Nassau County Executive.
In 2011, Ambrosino incorporated Vanderbilt Consulting Group, Inc. (“Vanderbilt”). Ambrosino was the sole shareholder for Vanderbilt. In September 2012, Ambrosino opened a bank account in the name of Vanderbilt (the “Vanderbilt Bank Account”), and he was the sole authorized signer on that account.
As alleged in the indictment, from 2013 through 2015, in contravention of his compensation agreement with the Law Firm, Ambrosino diverted legal fees that he was required to provide to the Law Firm and deposited them into the Vanderbilt Bank Account. Among Ambrosino’s clients from whom he received legal fees were components of Nassau County, New York, including the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency (the “NCIDA”) and the Nassau County Local Economic Assistance Corporation (the “NCLEAC”). Between 2013 and 2015, Ambrosino received more than $1.3 million in payments from the NCIDA and NCLEAC. Of this amount, Ambrosino deposited more than $800,000 into a bank account, for which he was the sole signatory, rather than submitting the payments to the Law Firm as required under his compensation agreement.
As further alleged in the indictment, Ambrosino evaded substantial income tax due and owing by him and filed false and fraudulent corporate tax returns on behalf of Vanderbilt. For the 2011, 2012 and 2013 tax years, Ambrosino evaded the assessment of income tax by, among other things, deducting rent expenses on the Vanderbilt corporate tax returns that he knew were not business expenses. Specifically, Ambrosino claimed rent for a Manhattan apartment paid for by him on behalf of a third-party as a business expense. Ambrosino’s personal tax returns included the losses flowing from Vanderbilt for the 2011 and 2012 tax years. In addition, for the 2013 tax year, Ambrosino failed to claim approximately $315,000 in funds he diverted from the Law Firm on either his personal income tax return or the Vanderbilt corporate tax return. With respect to the 2014 tax year, Ambrosino did not timely file his personal tax return or the corporate tax return for Vanderbilt. As a result of Ambrosino’s conduct, the IRS suffered a tax loss of approximately $254,628.
If convicted, Ambrosino faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years for the wire fraud charge, five years for each charge of tax evasion, three years for each charge of making and subscribing to false corporate tax returns, and one year for failing to file a tax return. The charges in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Long Island Criminal Division. Assistant United States Attorneys Catherine M. Mirabile and Raymond A. Tierney are in charge of the prosecution.