Gerard Terry defense submits more than 100 letters testifying to Terry’s character

Janelle Clausen
Gerard Terry was first arrested on a state tax fraud charge in April 2016. (Photo from Nassau County District Attorney's office)
Gerard Terry was first arrested on a state tax fraud charge in April 2016. (Photo from Nassau County District Attorney's office)

Attorneys for former North Hempstead Democratic Party head Gerard Terry filed more than 100 letters from associates testifying to their client’s character and situation, in hopes of securing a more lenient punishment for Terry as prosecutors push for a 54-month sentence.

Among the letter authors were Terry’s health and mental health care providers, whose names are redacted, family members, clients, clergy, more than 20 attorneys, personal friends and a dozen current and former public officials.

The documents seek to craft Terry as a family “man of strong character and commitment,” active in politics and “always prepared to assist others in their time of need.”

They also outlined Terry’s “multiple cardiovascular conditions,” which “require frequent and regular clinical follow-up.”

The court documents also said Terry went through “a major change in his life in the early 2000s,” around the same time he neglected his tax obligations, which “some might describe” as a “mid-life crisis, when someone becomes aware of their age and begins making decision that are inconsistent” with who they are.

“The problem with his delinquent tax obligations would only escalate to the point where there seemed to be no way for him to ultimately catch up and so he gave up,” Terry’s attorneys said in court papers. “The defendant offers no excuses for his conduct and, indeed, fully appreciates how his past conduct has resulted in significant harm to his family, the extreme disappointment to his friends and associates, and total destruction to his reputation and his ability to practice law and the ability to support his wife.”

“From a financial standpoint,” the court papers go on to say, “the defendant has, for all intents and purposes, no assets, lives in a rented home, with no reasonable prospects going forward.”

Rep. Thomas Suozzi, the former Nassau County Executive, state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, former LIPA chairman Richard Kessel, Town Councilwomen Lee Seeman and Viviana Russell, Great Neck Plaza Mayor Jean Celender, former Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman, and former state Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel were on the list.

Also on the list was Robert Troiano, who had served as a senior policy advisor to Supervisor Judi Bosworth before being selected by County Executive Laura Curran to become acting commissioner for traffic and parking violations.

He resigned shortly before his confirmation following revelations of $81,533 in federal tax liens and a $749,264 lien on a house in foreclosure, which had not been disclosed on at least one financial disclosure statement.

The move came as federal prosecutors filed a sentencing memorandum recommending Terry serve 54 months – or four and a half years – in prison and pay full restitution due to “the seriousness of the offense,” “repeated disregard for the law,” and “the need for specific and general deterrence.”

Terry was once an influential political leader, working as an attorney for eight municipalities like Nassau County, the Town of North Hempstead and the Village of Manorhaven while serving as chairman of North Hempstead’s Democratic Party.

Prosecutors had said that in that time, Terry failed to file income tax returns from 2000 to 2015 while making approximately $250,000 annually, thus failing to pay nearly $1 million in federal income taxes.

They also said Terry “routinely provided false, misleading and incomplete information” to the Internal Revenue Service, once created a checking account in the name of a corporate nominee to conceal income, and “pressured colleagues and subordinates to not comply with IRS notices of levy.”

Terry resigned from his chairman position in early 2016 and lost five government tax contracts following these revelations.

“Over the course of fifteen years, based on sources of income known to the government, Terry evaded more than $992,057 in federal income taxes, accumulating a federal tax debt of approximately $1.4 million,” prosecutors said in recently filed court papers. “He did this deliberately, intentionally and habitually, all while serving as a Democratic Party boss and receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in government work.”

The March 29 federal sentencing hearing was postponed to May 11.

Terry, who had also pleaded guilty in county court to one charge of criminal tax fraud for failing to pay $3,000 in state taxes, will face a sentencing hearing on April 9.

Terry is represented by Scaring & Carman PLLC, a Garden City-based law firm.

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