Restitution of $16,820 made
By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong
Former Philipstown Supervisor Bill Mazzuca, charged on two felony counts of allegedly claiming unemployment insurance while employed as the town’s chief executive, is expected to plead guilty in May to lesser charges and undertake community service, to close the case.
Mazzuca appeared in Cold Spring Justice Court Wednesday, April 10, where William T. Burke, his attorney; Matthew Toporowski, assistant Putnam County district attorney; and Judge Thomas Costello reviewed details of a planned resolution, which is subject to the judge’s approval. As briefly outlined in the courtroom, the district attorney will reduce the charges, Mazzuca will withdraw an earlier “not guilty” plea, receive a one-year conditional discharge, and complete 40 hours of community service within a reasonable period, such as six months.
The likely agreement anticipates his fulfillment of the community service obligation through his capacity as a member of the Town of Philipstown Recreation Commission. He has already made restitution of the $16,820 in unemployment compensation, according to both his attorney and the prosecutor.
He was accused of fraudulently claiming the unemployment money in a nine-month period in 2009, while employed as Philipstown supervisor, three to four years after he retired from the job of superintendent of the Taconic Correctional Facility in Fishkill, for which he was drawing a $115,513 pension.
After his departure from the state prison system, he temporarily held a $90,615 job as a security liaison in the New York Power Authority, another state agency, and worked as a deputy corrections commissioner in Westchester County for $120,000 annually. Mazzuca left office as supervisor, which paid $25,000 yearly, at the end of 2009, after not seeking re-election. Following an investigation, the Putnam County District Attorney’s Office in January brought the charges — one count of insurance fraud and a second of grand larceny.
Under the terms of the pending settlement, “we’ve reduced the felonies,” Toporowski told the judge.
During the courtroom discussions with Toporowski and Burke, Costello stated that Mazzuca, a well-known local figure, “is being treated the same as any other defendant in this court.” The judge often encourages the district attorney’s office and defendants, or their lawyers, to work out various aspects of cases and come back in a month to wrap things up.
“I do not have a difficulty” with the proposed resolution, Costello said. However, he emphasized, “the charges are not reduced today,” since the parties must return to formally tie up loose ends in May. “It’s just a matter of getting the paperwork in place,” he said.
In a few remarks to The Paper after the court session, Toporowski concurred the proceedings were “just adjourned for paperwork” and the case should essentially conclude next month, “with the restitution up front — that’s the important part.” He said that in the resolution, the district attorney’s office was basically merging the two felony counts into one, all-inclusive misdemeanor charge.
On leaving the court with his client, Burke said Mazzuca had no comment for the press or public.