Closing statements scheduled for Tuesday.
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.
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