Conflicts of Interest Board fines Queens Public Administrator in latest controversy at county office

By LOUIS FLORES

Lois Rosenblatt, the Queens County Public Administrator, has agreed to pay a fine of $3,000 to settle an investigation by the New York City Conflicts of Interest Board. The settlement ended an investigation into the hiring of a woman, and a subsequent salary increase awarded to the woman, who became engaged to Ms. Rosenblatt's son. Information about the fine and the investigation were made public by the Conflicts of Interest Board in a Disposition made public on Wednesday.

Requests for interviews made by Progress Queens to the office of the Queens County Public Administrator and to Ms. Rosenblatt's, attorney, Arnold Kriss, were not immediately answered.

In the Disposition that settled the investigation, Ms. Rosenblatt agreed that, "by supervising my son's live-in fiancé and authorizing a salary increase for her, I indirectly benefited my son," a violation of City Charter §2604(b)(3), which states that, "No public servant shall use or attempt to use his or her position as a public servant to obtain any financial gain, contract, license, privilege or other private or personal advantage, direct or indirect, for the public servant or any person or firm associated with the public servant."

The Disposition and the fine are the latest controversies to hit the Queens County Public Administrator's office. A special investigation published last month by The New York Daily News raised questions about how the office of the Queens County Public Administrator refers cases to lawyers. Ms. Rosenblatt administers estates of people, who die without leaving wills. The estate administration takes place before Surrogate's Court. The investigation by The New York Daily News questioned how three attorneys, Gerard Sweeney, Michael Reich, and Frank Bolz, are referred cases before the Surrogate's Court, are able to gate-keep political primary races, or are able to exercise discretion over which judicial candidates receive support from the Queens Democratic County Committee.

Following the special report in The New York Daily News, each of the offices of Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget Rohde, who is the top Federal prosecutor for New York's eastern district, and District Attorney Richard Brown (D-Queens), refused to comment about the questions raised in the report published by The New York Daily News.

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