District attorney accuses sitting legislator of breaking ethics rules
Suffolk Legis. Rudy Sunderman of the 3rd District was indicted Tuesday on ethics charges, according to the Suffolk County District Attorney. Sunderman surrendered to authorities and was released Tuesday.
Officials accuse the first-term legislator from Mastic of continuing employment with the Centereach Fire Department in a consulting role once elected to the Legislature. Ethics rules state an elected official cannot hold two roles. He is also accused of lying under oath about the situation. The DA also alleges that Sunderman created a shell corporation with his wife to continue his employment. Sunderman pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Sunderman told the Long Island Advance after his election win that he would continue to volunteer with the Mastic Fire Department, but would forfeit his job with Centereach.
Sunderman said at the time: “I am going to show the same work ethic as I do as a volunteer. It’s about people before politics. This is going to be my full-time job — our community needs it.”
County ethics law states: “No elected official shall hold another paid position of employment with the County or a paid position of employment with any department, office, commission, board or agency of the United States of America, New York State, any town or village government, or public benefit corporation created under the provisions of New York State law.”
The law states a violation could be punishable by up to one year in prison and/or a fine of $1,000.
After the arraignment in Riverhead, Sunderman’s lawyer, Ray Perini, said he was not guilty and the charges were not of merit. Sunderman’s office did not return requests for comment.
“This is a man who said he was going to be a full-time legislator,” said Kate Browning, former legislator who served the 3rd district for 12 years before Sunderman was elected.
Browning said during the campaign that Sunderman had promised to be a full-time legislator and forfeit his other positions. She said this makes those statements a lie. Browning called on him to resign and apologize.
“It’s a disappointment to the constituents in our district,” she said.
Sunderman has been a lifelong resident of Mastic and was elected after Browning was term-limited in 2017. He is due back in court on Aug. 13.