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Councilman's Trial Nears Conclusion

Closing statements scheduled for Tuesday.

Long Beach Councilman Michael Fagen.
Long Beach Councilman Michael Fagen.
The jury in the nearly two week-long trial of Long Beach City Councilman Michael Fagen will hear closing statements Tuesday morning.

On Monday, the last witness in the trial, Jay Hong, an investigator at the New York Department of Labor, was called to testify, answering questions from Fagen’s attorney, Marc Gann, and prosecutor Marshall Trager in Judge Mary Berkowitz’s courtroom at Nassau County Supreme Court in Mineola.  

Fagen is charged with illegally collecting more than $15,000 in unemployment checks while he worked as a member of the council, and his trial centered on whether he worked in the capacity part-time or full-time while he collected unemployment benefits starting in September 2009, before be started his post as councilman on Jan. 1, 2010.

Gann argued that Fagen worked in a part-time position, never earning more than $20,000 as a councilman, which made him eligible for unemployment. Fagen, a Democrat, was pushed by the Republican administration, which held a majority on the council at that time, to keep a log of council activities, even brief conversations with constituents, in order to make it appear as if he were working full-time hours while collecting unemployment, Gann argued.

Trager and fellow prosecutor William Jorgensen called Long Beach Comptroller Jeff Nogid and Brian Curtis, a supervising hearing representative with the state Department of Labor, to testify in the trial. Nogid said that all elected officials must keep a log if they plan to apply for the state pension system. While Gann said that Fagen hasn’t applied to draw a pension, prosecutors said he is in the process of applying, according to Newsday

During his testimony, Curtis said that elected work is "employment that must be reported" to the state “... in the same way anyone else would be required to.”

Gann pointed to a change in the labor department’s handbook that says residents must report all the work they perform “in connection with a public office,” a change that was enacted in September 2010, the period after Fagen is accused of illegally collecting benefits, Gann said, according to Newsday.

Fagen was indicted on felony charges of third-degree grand larceny, petty larceny and 38 counts of offering false instrument for filing last February. If convicted, the councilman faces up to seven years in prison.
Beachguy January 29, 2013 at 08:26 PM
right candy gram . It wouldn't be so frustrating if they weren't so inept and ineffectual. Time for a third party.
Jack January 29, 2013 at 10:54 PM
Taurus you are an IDIOT. Pres. Kennedy started the worst war we ever had in Vietnam! More than 50,000 soldiers killed. It tore our country apart and made us so weak in the 1970's that radical islam was able to make inroads against our weakened military and country. Trillions of dollars were wasted also in Vietnam. Read yor history dummy not what you get on CNBC/CNN.
Jack January 29, 2013 at 10:54 PM
The councilman shoulkd be found guilty as charged!
Christopher January 30, 2013 at 06:39 AM
It appears everyone is an "idiot" when they don't agree with the majority. This is why we live in a free society. No one here has went to the trial to hear the evidence presented. The jury has that call if he is innocent or guilty.

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