Former Suffolk County Legislator Wayne Prospect, who was found guilty by a jury in 2006 of bribe-taking and conspiracy, lost an appeal last week.
The Appellate Division of Supreme Court, in a unanimous ruling, found that the evidence was “legally sufficient to establish the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Mr. Prospect can now try to have his conviction overturned by New York’s highest court, its Court of Appeals, but it does not take all the cases it is asked to consider.
Mr. Prospect, 59, of Dix Hills was sentenced to two-and-a-half to seven-and-a-half years in prison. He was convicted of acting with Stephen Baranello, assistant director of marketing for the Suffolk Off-Track Betting Corporation, in accepting money from an undercover detective for the Suffolk DA’s office who posed as a contractor seeking information on county projects that were going out to bid.
Mr. Baranello, who earlier pleaded guilty to bribe-taking and conspiracy, testified against Mr. Prospect at his trial, and faces three to nine years in jail.
Mr. Prospect, a high school social studies teacher before becoming involved in government as a county legislative aide, was a Democratic legislator in the 1980s and a leader on environmental and energy issues. A group of Democratic figures including Stephen Baranello’s father, long-time Suffolk Democratic Chairman Dominic Baranello, arranged a successful challenge to him in a 1989 Democratic primary—mainly because of Mr. Prospect’s strong environmental and energy stands—that deprived him of the Democratic nomination for reelection.
Mr. Prospect went on to a number of positions including heading environmental protection efforts in Huntington Town. He was working as a consultant and in public relations when he was caught up in the DA’s investigation.
He was on the transition team assembled by Steve Levy after Mr. Levy was elected as Suffolk County executive in 2003. Stephen Baranello had been a close political advisor to Mr. Levy. Dominic Baranello died in 2006.