Rockland County’s ‘Corridor of Corruption’ has now ensnared County Legislator Frank Sparaco who pleaded guilty this morning, Friday, February 06, 2015, to misdemeanor charges accusing him of filing false nominating petitions in an effort to take over the Clarkstown Republican Party. Here is the text of a press release from the District Attorney’s office:
“Rockland County District Attorney Thomas P. Zugibe today announced the guilty plea of Frank Sparaco (DOB 03/12/76) of 17 Louis Avenue, Valley Cottage, New York, for falsifying political petitions.
“The defendant caused the integrity of the political process needless harm,” said District Attorney Zugibe, “Electoral fraud only serves to reduce voters’ confidence in democracy. Even the perception of fraud can be damaging, as it makes people less inclined to accept election results and fosters mistrust in our system. I will continue to utilize all of the resources of my office to vigorously prosecute those who try to manipulate the outcome of an election.”
Sparaco, a Rockland County Legislator, pleaded guilty in Town of Clarkstown Justice Court to:
Eight counts of Offering a False Instrument For Filing in the Second Degree, class “A” Misdemeanors
Two counts of Furnishing False Information, Unclassified Misdemeanors
On July 10, 2014, Sparaco filed with the Rockland County Board of Elections designating petitions for the Town of Clarkstown Republican Party with knowledge that the petitions contained false statements and information regarding the addresses of the individuals he was designating for various positions in the Town of Clarkstown Republican Party.
Specifically, Sparaco recruited two individuals, Vincent Marzella and Seth Gross, to falsely change their voting address to Brega Transport, located at 500 Corporate Way, Valley Cottage, New York, for the purpose of nominating them to committee positions within the Clarkstown Republican Committee.
Marzella lives in Stony Point, New York. Gross is a New Jersey resident.
Sparaco also admitted to unlawfully enabling relatives to register to vote in the Town of Clarkstown. The defendant represented to the Board of Elections that his two cousins, Keith Kuropatski and Michael Kuropatski, whom are brothers, lived part-time with him, his wife and children at their Valley Cottage home. In reality, the brothers resided with their respective families in Yonkers, New York.
Also, as part of the plea agreement, the defendant agreed to resign his position as a county legislator, will serve eight weekends in the Rockland County jail and three years probation. The conditions of his probation include a ban on holding public office as well as a ban on actively participating in a political party, either directly or indirectly.
Sentencing is scheduled for April 16, 2015. This case is being prosecuted by Supervising Assistant District Attorney Richard K. Moran.”
Sparaco was arrested in November 2014 and charged with more than three dozen felony counts connected to the false filing of forged political petitions. He was facing up to seven years in prison if convicted having been charged with 19 counts each of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing and first-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, all felonies under state penal law. He was also charged with two misdemeanor counts of misconduct in relation to petitions in violation of state election law related to an attempt to take over the Rockland County Republican Committee by packing it with his supporters
Sparaco’s troubles with the District Attorney began when he stepped over a critical legal line associated with the collection of petitions for positions to be voted on during a Rockland County Republican Party Committee election. An article published in Rockland Voice outlined numerous forgery and fraud activities allegedly being perpetrated by Sparaco according to senior members of the Rockland County Republican Party. It is believed that the Rockland Voice article was taken to the District Attorney by several senior Republicans who had observed the alleged illegal actions reported by Rockland Voice. Sparaco was subsquently arrested in November 2014 by District Attorney Zugibe and dismissed from his second patronage job by Wayne Ballard under pressure from members of the Clarkstown Town Board.
The Rockland Voice also reported that sources within the Republican party had further reported to the District Attorney that they suspected improper use of campaign funds by the Independence Party had occurred. Frank Sparaco was known to play a major part in the decision-making of what the Journal News has referred to as the “legal racket party” formerly ‘chaired’ by Sparaco’s mother-in-law, who previously served time in jail for her political activities collecting petitions. The “legal racket” is now ‘chaired’ by Sparaco’s school friend, John Perrotta.
In addition a review of the expenditure reports and donations for the Independence Party that are on public file demonstrated the potential that funds from the Independence Party may have been used for the collection of signatures in the contested Republican Party primary that was being waged by Legislator Frank Sparaco with the help of Clarkstown’s Superintendent of Highways, Wayne Ballard, in a continuing strategy to consolidate political power under Vinny Reda and himself and thereby thwart reform.
As outlined in a previous article in Rockland Voice, during the September 2014 Clarkstown Republican Party primary two men, Michael and Keith Kuropatski, registered as Republican party voters claiming to reside at 17 Louis Avenue in Valley Cottage, the home of Frank and Kimberly Sparaco. The Kuropatski’s witnessed Republican Party petitions submitted by Sparaco to the Rockland County Board of Elections. Curiously, both of these men were paid in excess of $3,200 over a three week period for work with “Independence Party petitions” according to Independence Party financial filings.
Keith and Michael Kuropatski
What raised eyebrows by senior Republicans was that according to State records neither of the Kuropatskis were notaries or Independence Party members at the time thus making them ineligible to gather signatures for the Independence political party. New York State election law is clear that to witness political party signatures on a party’s petitions one must be registered as a member in that particular political party, be a notary public or be an attorney to gather signatures.
Even more troubling was the fact that after reviewing all petitions submitted countywide for the Independence Party neither Keith’s nor Michael Kuropatski’s names appeared in any form on any Independence party petitions. In addition, a ‘Ruth Kuropatski’ also listed as residing at 17 Louis Avenue Valley Cottage (Frank Sparaco’s residence) was paid $150 for petitions. Ruth Kuropatski according to board of election records was not registered in Rockland County.
The Kuropatski family’s total payment for ‘petitions’ according to the Independence Party records was an astounding $3,365 paid between June 14th through July 3rd, 2014 which covered the period that they were carrying petitions for the Republican Party’s Committee election.
In these documents and on Republican Party petitions filed by Frank Sparaco, four adults in addition to Sparaco, his wife Kimberly and their three children were reported as living in Sparaco’s home at 17 Louis Avenue, Valley Cottage namely his cousins Michael, Keith and Ruth Kuropatski along with another relative, Antonio Sparaco.
While the Kuropatskis appear not to have witnessed signatures in the Independence Party, Michael and Keith did witness numerous signatures in the Republican party. Senior Republican Party members questioned if these Independence Party funds were misappropriated for services rendered in the quest for control of the Republican Party currently being ‘masterminded’ by Frank Sparaco.
Republican Party Committee members also noted that a payment of $4,100 was made to an Ernest Kebrech residing at 2043 Creston Avenue, Bronx, New York on June 3, 2014 with the notation “office.” As was outlined in the previous Rockland Voice article concerning the attempted take-over bid by Sparaco of the Republican party’s senior committee, this address was listed on petitions gathered in June 2014 by several individuals who appear to have been brought from the Bronx to witness 12% of the Sparaco filed petitions including four individuals claiming to reside in the same building at 2043 Creston Avenue. One individual “Ana F” was reported to have collected over a dozen signatures and appeared to reside at a different Bronx address than the other four.
Thus, according to those who had examined these documents in detail, it appeared that petitions collected by Sparaco surrogates with membership in the Republican Party were paid $7,465 in funds from the Independence party. If that were the case then this was suspected to be a clearly improper and possibly illegal use of these funds.
The Independence party filings raised other questions on expenditures which included hundreds of dollars spent at the ‘Whiskey Kitchen’ in Valley Cottage shortly after it opened under the ownership of Jay Savino’s family. Jay Savino was the Town of Clarkstown’s Tax Certiorari attorney having been hired at a salary of $85,000. His hiring was questioned by numerous town citizens and Councilwoman Hausner initially voted against his hiring claiming that he came to the town with “baggage“. One year later, however, Hausner voted for his re-appointment while still expressing concerns about his “character“. Supervisor Gromack, who provided the job for Savino based on representations to him from Sparaco and the ex-Chairman of the Republican Party, Vinnie Reda, held an emergency Town Board meeting to fire Savino upon his arrest for accepting a bribe. Savino subsequently accepted a plea deal and has been testifying in several corruption cases in Westchester.
Sparaco, Savino and Reda
In his testimony at a recent Federal corruption trial Savino claimed he was employed “cleaning bathrooms and filling icetrays” at a restaurant in Rockland County. Savino also admitted in the Halloran trial living in the Rockland County hamlet of Congers, NY – not the Bronx. He said the feds, as part of his plea agreement, opted not to prosecute him for lying about his address for years so he could vote in the Bronx.
On six occasions in April, and May expenditures ranging from $30 to in excess of $190 were recorded as paid to the ‘Whiskey Kitchen’ making it appear that it was used as a regular eating place for someone in the Independence Party. Further over the course of the past year and a half several thousand dollars in party funds were charged at a Shell gas station in Valley Cottage and other stations in the area as well as regular payments for a mobile phone. Numerous expenditures on the Independence Party filings appear more personal in nature ranging for example from flowers, food, gas and other items of a possible non-political nature.
Sparaco was first hired by Highways Superintendent Ballard to a part-time job paying $75,000 as a Constituent Services Assistant. In an editorial in the Journal News entitled ‘Clarkstown Puts Political Clout Before All Else In Hiring Frank Sparaco’ the JN stated:
Rockland County Legislature Minority Leader Frank Sparaco has been appointed “constituent representative” for the Clarkstown Highway Department — keeping alive the town’s penchant for hiring political operatives, even amid cost-cutting and consolidation. As a Republican legislator, Sparaco has voted against tax increases, even as the county’s multimillion-dollar deficit swells; he’s fought pay raises for county employees; and tried to eliminate the county’s Youth Employment program. Now he earns $75,000 for the 25-hour-a-week town post. That’s $57.69 per hour. He gets no benefits, though — he gets those, courtesy of the taxpayer, through his part-time county post.
Besides his GOP leadership role, Sparaco also had been a key player in the county’s Independence Party. Highway Superintendent Wayne Ballard, like Sparaco, is a Republican. But in Clarkstown, that’s of little matter. The Democratic supervisor, Alex Gromack, has various party leaders in his employ, and election after election, he and Ballard have been cross-endorsed and rarely challenged.
During his tenure as a part-time employee Sparaco engaged in what he considered were clandestine activities to “root out corruption” in Clarkstown. He surreptitiously recorded an elected official and a town employee and held a news conference in which Highway Superintendent Ballard joined him on the stage in claiming that he had turned over his ‘evidence’ to the FBI. The tapes were highly edited and the FBI showed no interest in his assertions.
Subsequently the Clarkstown Town Board on a motion proposed by Republican Hoehmann and seconded by Democrat Stephanie Hausner succeeded with a third vote from Republican Borelli in eliminating Sparaco’s part-time position. However, he was immediately rehired by Superintendent Ballard as the latter’s ‘Confidential Secretary’ at a salary of over $100,000. During this period Sparaco and Ballard apparently collected petitions for Republican Party positions that were not vacant in an unprecedented attempt to take over the Rockland County Republican Committee.
Now that both Jay Savino and Frank Sparaco, two patronage employees of the Town of Clarkstown hired under Supervisor Gromack’s watch, have now been been proven to have been deeply involved in criminal activity one wonders who will be the next to fall? Recently, the Town conducted an independent human resources audit of the activities in the Highway Department under the management of Superintendent Ballard which has raised a host of concerns about the actions of the Highways Superintendent. The Town Board continues to be questioned about what actions it will take given the very serious allegations raised by several Town employees.
What is now clear is that the Town of Clarkstown has a deeply corrupt core which must be rooted out before Clarkstown can restore itself to fiscal sanity and principled government. Regrettably, despite repeated warnings from members of the public this corrupt core has been allowed to grow under the administration of Supervisor Alex Gromack and under the supervision of the longest serving member of the Town Board, Deputy Supervisor Lasker. It is to them that we must look for this ‘buck’ to stop.