Fred Mogul, Reporter, WNYC News
Fred Mogul has been covering healthcare and medicine for WNYC since 2002.
Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz was fined $2,000 by the city's Conflict of Interest Board for putting a top aide to work on private business.
Markowitz hired a lawyer at the recommendation of his chief of staff, Carlo Scissura, who vouched for attorney Leslie Lombard when the borough president needed help with the purchase of his home in 2009.
Lombard, who has a private law practice, also works for Scissura, who has a legal partnership in addition to working for the Brooklyn Borough President.
Scissura and Markowitz wouldn’t comment, but both told the Conflict of Interest Board they thought Lombard was working in a private capacity rather than as Scissura’s employee. Doing so would mean that Markowitz would be paying Scissura for work outside the Borough President’s office, which is prohibited by conflict of interest law.
Lombard started working for Markowitz, but couldn’t attend the property closing. She was on maternity leave in November of 2009, and Markowitz’s closing got scheduled sooner than initially anticipated.
So Scissura stepped in for her.
City law, however, forbids subordinates from working for their bosses outside the office.
Neither Scissura nor Lombard initially billed Markowitz for the work – another problem. Elected officials cannot receive free legal services. Lombard later billed Markowitz, but only the following July after the city’s Department of Investigations began looking into the matter.
The Conflict of Interest Board fined Markowitz $2,000 and Scissura $ 1,100.
In court papers, the two men said the incident was a misunderstanding because they thought Lombard was working was only working for herself, not for Scissura. They told the Conflict of Interest Board they thought Leslie Lombard was working independently.
Scissura also said he was unaware of the city law prohibiting private work by a subordinate for a superior. He said had not handled the case or done any legal work for Markowitz, other than pinch-hitting at the real estate closing.