Gerard Terry, an influential political operative and chairman of the North Hempstead Democratic Committee, has for years received government work paying him hundreds of thousands of dollars even as he compiled an income tax debt of $1.4 million and battled lawsuits alleging fraud and failure to pay back loans, a Newsday review of public records shows.
Terry, 61, a private practice lawyer from Roslyn Heights, earned more than $217,000 last year from six government positions controlled by Democratic Party officials or in party enclaves. He made nearly $70,000 total to work as the attorney for the Freeport Community Development Agency, Roosevelt Library Board and Long Beach Housing Authority. Terry was paid another $74,000 as North Hempstead Town’s special counsel and attorney for the board of zoning appeals. And he received $75,000 to work for the Democratic commissioner at the Nassau County Board of Elections.
Despite his six-figure income funded by taxpayer dollars, Terry has since 2000 amassed nearly $1.2 million in federal liens from the Internal Revenue Service and more than $205,000 in state tax warrants. His federal debt increased by nearly $163,000 in October 2015, when the IRS issued a lien for unpaid taxes in 2012 and 2014.
Prominent Nassau Democrats allied with Terry, including North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth, former Supervisor Jon Kaiman and Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs, said in interviews they were unaware of the size of Terry’s tax liens.
Bosworth, who said the amount of Terry’s liens left her “surprised,” said she has asked Town Attorney Elizabeth Botwin to “undertake a comprehensive review and to advise me on any necessary changes in town policy and procedures that we need to take.”
Bosworth did not indicate whether that review would just involve Terry or a broader look at how the town conducts background checks of its employees and contractors. While Terry represented the town during a January zoning board meeting, his annual contracts have yet to be voted on for 2016 and are pending the town attorney’s review. Town officials did not say when the review would be completed.
“It’s serious,” Bosworth said of Terry’s liens. “Everyone’s obligated to pay their taxes and there are no exceptions.”
Blair Horner, the executive director of the New York Public Interest Research Group, said Terry’s array of government jobs “raises the question of whether or not the personnel decisions were awarded based on the merits, or on political connections.”
“If they didn’t do any background checks, and only picked him because he’s the party leader, the public should know that,” Horner said.
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