What to Know
- A local Long Island official has been arrested in connection with an ongoing investigation by the Nassau County district attorney's office
- John Novello surrendered to authorities Thursday morning; investigators had been looking into him for several months
- Recently, investigators searched the offices of the town of Hempstead's Department of Buildings as well as Novello's home
A Hempstead town official was arrested Thursday for allegedly stealing from a Republican committee to pay his mortgage and for luxuries like a winery trip and high-end candies.
Deputy Department of Buildings Commissioner John Novello surrendered Thursday morning to face grand larceny and petit larceny charges, as well as election law violations.
Authorities allege Novello stole $59,000 from the Cedarhurst Republican Committee, dipping into funds dozens of times in amounts of $2,000 or less each time.
Nassau County prosecutors allege Novello spent about $200 just on Sugarfina candies and visited the Wölffer Estate winery in Sagaponack, New York.
According to the indictment, Novello allegedly stole from the committee between Jan. 15, 2016 and Aug. 15, 2019.
Novello was the subject of an ongoing probe out of the Nassau County district attorney's office; investigators had been looking into him for several months.
In recent weeks, the investigation ramped up as authorities searched the offices of the town of Hempstead's building department as well as Novello’s home.
Sources say investigators left with boxes of files as well as Novello’s work computer.
Novello plead not guilty Thursday morning and was released on his own recognizance. His attorney said he was still reviewing the charges against his client.
In a statement, Hempstead Town councilmembers said: "The Town Board is deeply troubled by the allegations against Deputy Building Commissioner Novello. In light of those allegations, we have reached out to the Town Attorney's office and have strongly recommended that Mr. Novello be reassigned to a position that does not have any managerial responsibilities in relation to the building department or other employees. The Town Board has consistently held that it is best for the criminal justice process to play out and will take further action, if warranted, once a final determination is made by the court."
Nassau County Republican Committee spokesperson Mike Deery said the allegation against Novello "are deeply troubling."
"The Committee stands ready to work with the District Attorney’s Office," Deery said in a statement. "At the same time, we are committed to holding members of our Committee to the highest standards of conduct and integrity. Accordingly, the Nassau County Republican Committee is immediately removing Mr. Novello, pending the conclusion of all legal issues surrounding this matter."