It was late Thursday, February 9 when the Yonkers Tribune / The Westchester Guardian would come to learn of a lawsuit in which the United States of America v. Nicholas A. Spano would charge the former New York State Senator with tax evasion. The complaint was read to him Friday morning, February 10, upon his appearance before the federal court in White Plains, New York. He was formally charged with obstructing and impeding the due administration of the Internal Revenue Laws. The complaint went on to state that Nick Spano had also failed to report consultant fees, and real estate commissions.
The lawsuit charges Nick Spano with having collected over $1 million in consulting fees over a 12 year period from a politically connected insurance brokerage firm, fraudulently deducting $180,000 in non-existent rental expenses to hide the money received from the insurance firm through a shell company he presided over, and with failure to report $45,000 in income received from the sale of a building in White Plains, New York.
Hearing of the anticipated case had Yonkers in stitches. The city was apoplectic in anticipation of Mr. Spano’s fall. Some among the fourth largest city in New York State were awaiting this day. There is a lust for bloodletting, particularly with regard to Nick Spano. Such has been the way among Yonkersites for seemingly two generations, if not more. Mr. Spano rose to great heights in the New York State Senate, regarded the third most powerful individual during his tenure. In those days nary a negative word was publicly said against him. Allegations would be spoken of in generalities but none would see the light of day. If mentioned, they were expressed in confidence and hushed tones. The chatter was seemingly relegated to gossip rather than fact. Besides, all who were allegedly in the “know” were more concerned over awaiting their turn at the receiving end of the anticipated largesse of one kind or another from Uncle Nick, Yonkers own Santa Claus. The so-called patronage mill trough from which many would feed seemed to beget only their silence. Yet some would be heard bolting outside the confines of their self-induced silence to cast vague aspersions against the so-called “Don.”
Those seemingly not part of the “inside” crowd would be recognized to join forces that seemingly challenged the status quo presided over by Mr. Spano. It would eventually be recognized that all the so-called adversaries could be found laying in the same orgy bed, to matter the assertions otherwise. Even so, the battle royale of the olden days continues to this day. The public allegations and recriminations made against Nick Spano, in fact, the entire family, are unabated. The catalyst behind the bad blood among the warring factions may be nothing more than jealousy. In politics, those who are jealous are envious of the power of influence and patronage and the wealth gained through position.
While there are many who salivate in anticipation of his demise, there are others who stand in friendship with Nick Spano and the Spano family.
The truth has not been told in Yonkers. The truth is likely not best described in exemplary terms and likewise not described in negative terms. No matter where one stands, the only certainty that can be attested over these many years is that Yonkersites have suffered by their lack of finding an outlet by which their allegations are respectfully scrutinized, that the assertions and allegations they harbor are not realized in the voting booth, and that their continued aversion to be more engaged in the political process has been detrimental to their quality of life specifically because they are not critical or questioning of the process by which they conform timidly.
Likely unconcerned one way or the other as to the personal outcome over Nichalos A. Spano, and reveling to the next circus tent in anticipation of another demise of one sort or another, Yonkersites flounder in their silence.
For the moment, it is all about this case.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in a statement said, “Former Senator Nicholas Spano is the latest in a regrettably long line of lawmakers turned lawbreakers. When elected officials put padding their pockets above the law, they tarnish our government and undermine people’s faith in their public servants. We will not tolerate this conduct and will continue to aggressively prosecute those who engage in it.”
Spano faces a maximum sentence of three years in prison, as well as a fine of $250,000, which is equivalent to twice the gross gain or loss derived from the crime, whichever is more.
Standing before Judge Cathy Seibel, Nick Spano with his head bowed, hands clasped before him in a contrite and deferential manner could not help but comprehend the severity of the charges before him.
“Today is obviously not a good day for me or my family, but I want to be honest and open about it,” he said in a statement issued through his lawyer. “I did not pay all the income taxes that I should have. For this I am sorry and I take full responsibility.”
Mr Spano, 58 years of age, pleaded guilty to a single felony tax charge. He will be sentenced on June 12.
While the mid-June sentencing is of great importance, greater relevance should continue to be focused upon the $400,000 personal liability the 2011 Yonkers City Council exonerated the former Mayor Phil Amicone being responsible for despite the ruling of the Honorable Cathy Seibel, the money inappropriately commandeered for the nValley Technology Center to the tune of $42 million, the Yonkers Baseball Project which cost $800,000, the cesspool known as the Hudson River Museum, also in the millions, the Phillipsburg Performing Art Center debacle which cost over $3 million, the Ridge Hill Development contracts that have not been complied, the Lisa Mrijaj contract valued at $600,000 with the Yonkers Parking Authority, the conduct of Nicolai Mrijaj, the overtime issues, the projects not authorized but contracted and bonds issued without authority. The lack of transparency in government, the master development scams, the lack of Request for Proposal protocol, the hiring of friends and family to city jobs, and on and on. Issues that continue to plague the city and exacerbate its growing deficit and growing blight are undeterred. The list is seemingly endless; besides few care to hear of it, laughing at another incident that has caused Yonkers pain.
The reality will not change Yonkers course until Yonkersites speak up. Write that letter to the editor and fill your comments with FACTS. Anything less is just not good enough. Kicking people to witness their grimace is childish. Its time we all did the right thing. Will you be holding your breath in anticipation we will witness that day?
Will the bloodletting sought over Mr. Nick Spano’s conduct evaporate like a mirage by our being deflected by another scandal?
When will we learn to focus? When will we speak up?