Ed Diana, former Orange County executive, pleads guilty in corruption probe

Diana pleaded guilty to committing a conflict of interest and two counts of offering a false instrument for accepting a $500 a week consulting position with a company contracted by the IDA while he was a board member.

News 12 Staff

Jun 21, 2021, 7:18 PM

Updated 1,089 days ago

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Ed Diana, former Orange County executive, pleads guilty in corruption probe
Former Orange County Executive Ed Diana was among a group of officials who pleaded guilty Monday in a fraud scheme involving hundreds of thousands of taxpayers’ dollars while Diana served as a boardmember on the county Independent Development Agency.
Diana is among three former IDA board members who pleaded guilty to felony charges, after a joint state and county investigation found the public officials lied about their employment and ties to a company called Galileo Technology Group, while awarding vague contracts to the business from 2015 to 2020.
The two others charged are Vincent Cozzolino and Laurie Villasuso, the IDA's managing director and CEO.
Officials say at one point the business was making nearly $800,000 for services that cost $35,000 a few years before, while all three were on the payroll.
"What we have in this case is a pattern of non-disclosed conflicts of interests, where these individuals were self-dealing. They were making decisions that benefitted themselves while they were on a payroll,” said Dave Hoolver, the Orange County district attorney.
Diana was Orange county executive from 2002 to 2013. He was the Town of Wallkill supervisor from 2018 to 2019.
His attorney says despite the guilty plea, the case against his client is based on a misunderstanding.
"If this can happen to Ed Diana, this could happen to anyone. If you are in government service, be thankful it isn't you," said Ben Ostrer.
Diana pleaded guilty to committing a conflict of interest and two counts of offering a false instrument and he faces up to four years in state prison when he is sentenced on Sept. 10. He will be required to pay back $90,000.
Current County Executive Steve Neuhaus released a statement on the guilty pleas:
“Today’s guilty pleas are disturbing and in the eyes of many in the public, the punishment does not fit the crime. Clearly, State laws must be changed and Moving forward, the Legislature must, as it appoints new Board Members, put only people who are interested in public service on the IDA Board.  You cannot serve two masters - that is what led to the sloppy and criminal actions under the past Board. The current five Board members are doing a great job and the Legislature needs to continue that trend and not go back to appointing self-interested people who are trying to make money for their own industry.”


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