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Former Orange County Executive Pleads Guilty In IDA Scheme

Former Orange County Executive Edward Diana
WAMC
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Former Orange County Executive Edward Diana

Former three-term Orange County, New York Executive Edward Diana has pleaded guilty to charges related to an investigation of corruption on the Orange County Industrial Development Agency Board. State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and local officials announced the charges Monday against Diana and two others, who were ordered to pay $1.2 million in restitution, in a scheme to defraud the IDA.

It came after a grand jury indictment was unsealed in Orange County. Also charged were Vincent Cozzolino, the president of Galileo Group, the consulting company that managed the IDA, and the IDA’s former president and CEO, Laurie Villasuso. The county legislature fired the entire IDA board and appointed new members earlier this year.

That new board then terminated the management contract with Galileo Group, and the county legislature and district attorney began investigations into the activities of the former administration.

According to Orange County, "Former IDA Managing Director Vincent Cozzolino, 62, of Gardiner, pleaded guilty before Orange County Court Judge Robert J. Prisco to Corrupting the Government in the Third Degree, a class D felony.  The IDA’s former Chief Executive Officer, Laurie Villasuso, 41, of Newburgh, pleaded guilty to Corrupting the Government in the Fourth Degree, a class E felony.  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 in the First Degree, a class E felony, and Committing a Prohibited Conflict of Interest.

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."

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