GOSHEN – Minority Democrats on the Orange County Legislature are calling for Republican Chairman Stephen Brescia to step down from his leadership role over the county Industrial Development Agency scandal.
Brescia was a member of the IDA board when Vincent Cozzolino, Laurie Villasuso and Edward Diana were involved in financially scamming the agency.
Democratic Leader Michael Paduch said his colleagues want additional investigation into the matter beyond that from the District Attorney’s and State Comptroller’s offices.
“District Attorney (David) Hoovler made it clear that he would like to charge the former IDA board members, but there is no criminal liability for incompetence. However, that does not mean there should be no consequences. Breaking the public trust, failing to exercise proper fiscal management and oversight must result in consequences,” Paduch said.
Republican lawmaker Jimmy O’Donnell, who pressed for the investigation that led to the three guilty pleas, supports teaming up with the Democrats to further investigate.
“I am still working with the comptroller’s office. So there is more to come. There is a lot more money still out there unaccounted for so I am looking forward to the meeting with the attorney general,” he said.
Brescia acknowledged the former IDA board should have kept a closer eye on the activities of the former administration.
“I am sure the DA’s report is going to be scathing in September, calling us incompetent. We let things slip that we shouldn’t have let slip. It is a shame because IDA board members were there on a voluntary basis and there were so many good things done over the years and this just tarnishes all the good that was done,” Brescia said. “To say that I was involved with collusion, I think that was an overstep.”
DA Hoovler has taken criticism this last week for not including jail time with the plea deals. He said on Tuesday that “IDA funds certainly were diminished and were squandered on unwise, conflicted and possibly negligent contracts and payments to Galileo, but they were not stolen.”
Cozzolino owns the Galileo Group, which managed the IDA at the time when he was paid by the county agency, but also collected additional funds for specific projects.