Former Orange County Executive, 2 Others Plead Guilty to Scheme
As part of their plea deal, all three agreed to pay over $1 million.
On Monday, three former officials of the Orange County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) pleaded guilty to felonies in connection with engaging in, and concealing, prohibited conflicts of interests.
Edward Diana, 72, of Wallkill, a former member of the IDA’s Board of Directors, and a former County Executive of Orange County, pleaded guilty to offering a false instrument for filing, a felony and committing a prohibited conflict of interest.
Former IDA Managing Director Vincent Cozzolino, 62, of Gardiner, pleaded guilty to corrupting the government, a felony. The IDA’s former Chief Executive Officer, Laurie Villasuso, 41, of Newburgh, also pleaded guilty to corrupting the government, a felony.
At the time that they pleaded guilty, Cozzolino and Villasuso each admitted that they had acted in concert with each other in a scheme to defraud the IDA through payments that the IDA made to Cozzolino’s company, Galileo Technologies Group, Inc. Villasuso admitted that she had been employed by both the IDA and Galileo Technologies Group, Inc. even as she signed contracts on behalf of the IDA with that corporation. Diana admitted being employed by Galileo Technologies Group, Inc. while he was an IDA Board Member, and filing a false document to conceal that employment. As a member of the IDA’s Board of Directors, Diana voted on the contracts that the IDA had with Galileo Technologies Group, Inc., and chaired the committee which dealt most directly with that company.
Collectively, the three defendants have agreed to pay more than one million two hundred thousand dollars to the IDA by the date that they are sentenced as part of their plea agreements.
The investigation into the Orange County IDA was conducted jointly by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, the New York State Comptroller’s Office, and the Town of New Windsor Police Department. While the investigation did not reveal evidence that there had been direct theft of IDA monies, it did reveal a pattern of conflicts of interest, one-sided contracts, and negligent oversight that resulted in Galileo Technologies Groups, Inc. having virtually unfettered discretion to bill the IDA hundreds of thousands of dollars for services that were only vaguely described and overlapped with services they were required to provide under other existing contracts.
"Both Villasuso, the Chief Executive Officer of the IDA, and Diana, the Board Member who chaired the IDA’s Accelerator Committee, should have been the ones most directly involved in oversight of Galileo Technologies Group, Inc.’s work and billing practices. Both were literally on Galileo Technologies Group, Inc.’s payroll. This situation was made even worse by the fact that neither the greater Board of Directors, nor the IDA’s attorney, exercised adequate, much less competent, oversight. As a result, Galileo Technologies Group, Inc. was paid more than it was entitled to for their services. Since the IDA willingly allowed Galileo Technologies Group, Inc. to submit invoices which did not contain detailed descriptions of the services they provided, it is impossible to properly audit the invoices to determine precisely what they were entitled to be paid. The District Attorney’s Office required as part of the plea disposition, that Cozzolino, who is a fifty percent owner of Galileo Technologies Group, Inc., and its Managing Partner, reimburse the IDA one million ($1,000,000.00) dollars, for services for which the IDA unquestionably overpaid," a press release on the guilty pleas stated.