Thursday, September 29, 2005

Tom Sabellico: Cheating Beyond Cheating

The September 8th Long Island Press article "Foul Ball" by Elizabeth Cady Brown chronicled the shady fundraising practices of Legislative candidate Tom Sabellico for the 14th LD and the Nassau GOP.
The article states "....the Press has spoken with five Little League veterans who say that Sabellico has inappropriately used his position with charities to advance his political career...."
"We all knew that Tom was using Farmingdale Baseball as a stepping stone," says one league volunteer. "This is Tom's way to get his face in the paper and make it look like he's a man of the community. But Tom is a man for Tom."
"There is evidence that Sabellico, as the head of Little League and Winning Beyond Winning, a charity he founded in 1998, may have veered into a gray area. For example, the Farmingdale Republican Committee's financial disclosure forms show Farmingdale Baseball League and Winning Beyond Winning each giving $150 to the GOP in 2001. The donations were not reported by the charities to the IRS."
"A Sabellico campaign event on Saturday, Aug. 27, further illustrated that fuzzy line. Hosted by Sabellico's political committee, it was unquestionably a political rally. A large banner hung from the park fence urging votes for Sabellico and the rest of the Nassau Republican slate, while children ran around with "Kids for Sabellico" T-shirts and "Tots 4 Tom" signs. Campaign donations were accepted."
"Politically more important, the guests were all from Farmingdale Baseball, suggesting that Sabellico used the league mailing list. Nonprofits can legally sell mailing lists to political candidates, but only if all candidates have the same opportunity. Sabellico did not pay for the list of former players, nor is the league willing to give his opponent the information. Sabellico says he had saved the contact data in personal files, but that still may not exempt the group from sharing the data with all candidates.
The use of the park is also sticky. Farmingdale Baseball's first vice president, Frank Nocerino, who gets town permits for the group to use Allen Park, told the Press that the field wasn't under league permit during the Aug. 27 event. But records from the Town of Oyster Bay Department of Parks clearly show the ball field permit was issued to "Mr. Frank Nocerino, Famingdale Baseball" from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. that day. It's probably not kosher for a nonprofit to hold the site permit for a political rally to benefit its president, and this kind of infraction could spark an investigation by the IRS or the state attorney general."


This weeks Farmingdale Observer printed a letter about the situation:
"As an alumnus of Farmingdale baseball and a graduate of Farmingdale High School, I am concerned by the recent revelations that, as president of the league, Tom Sabellico gave contributions from the league to the Farmingdale Republicans. My experience with Farmingdale baseball has been that the parents, coaches and volunteers always placed the children above self-serving political gain. As a CPA, I am professionally disturbed and I know that Farmingdale baseball's tax exemption status is now in jeopardy no matter the dollar amount given. Mr. Sabellico, Frank Nocerino, the first vice president and Dan Kornfeld, the treasurer, have an obligation to the league and community to ensure its well-being, not reward political organizations with money. What lesson does it teach our children when they have to play by the rules, but Mr. Sabellico so flagrantly breaks them?
Mike Norman"

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