Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy D. Sini has announced the guilty plea of a Suffolk County Legislator for filing a false financial disclosure form with the Suffolk County Board of Ethics.
Rudolph Sunderman, 51, of Mastic, has served as a Suffolk County Legislator representing Suffolk County’s Third Legislative District since January 2018. He pleaded guilty in front of Suffolk County Court Judge Anthony Senft, Jr., to Intentional Failure to File an Accurate Financial Disclosure Statement, an unclassified misdemeanor and a violation of the Suffolk County Code of Ethics. Pursuant to the plea agreement, he was sentenced to a conditional discharge, has waived his right to appeal, and will be required to pay a $1,000 fine.
“This legislator was told by the Suffolk County Board of Ethics that he was not permitted under the law to continue to get paid by the Centereach Fire District on top of his six-figure legislator salary,” District Attorney Sini said. “Instead of simply doing the right thing, he created a sham company in his wife’s name to try to get around the ruling. When the Board of Ethics started asking questions about this employment, he filed a false Financial Disclosure Form with the Board of Ethics concealing $60,000 in outside income paid to that company for his continued work for the Fire District.”
“After the Board of Ethics referred this case to my Office for investigation, our investigators and prosecutors meticulously gathered the evidence and presented it to a grand jury of the defendant’s peers, which indicted him with a series of crimes. For the next year and a half, we insisted on a criminal conviction either by plea or trial. That brings us to today, where the defendant admitted to his conduct in open court and pled guilty to a crime. As a result of today’s guilty plea, the defendant is a convicted criminal who is disqualified from holding the position of trust that he betrayed through his actions.”
Prior to his election to the Suffolk County Legislature in November 2017, Sunderman was employed as the district manager for the Centereach Fire District, earning approximately $175,000 a year, and as the district secretary for the Center Moriches Fire District, earning approximately $20,000 a year. On December 6, 2017, Sunderman received an opinion from the Suffolk County Board of Ethics that continuing to serve in these roles while serving as a legislator would constitute a violation of the Suffolk County Code. Sunderman resigned from his position with the Center Moriches Fire District.
Sunderman attempted to circumvent the Board of Ethics’ ruling with respect to his employment with the Centereach Fire District by creating a shell company, Now That’s Fire Management, Inc., in his wife’s name and arranging for the Centereach Board of Fire Commissioners to hire him through that company for $10,000 per month. Between January 2, 2018, and June 30, 2018, despite the Board of Ethics’ determination, Sunderman continued to work for the Centereach Fire District, resulting in $60,000 in payments to Now That’s Fire Management, Inc.
Following receipt of a complaint, the Suffolk County Board of Ethics began an investigation into Sunderman’s employment with the Centereach Fire District. On April 23, 2019, while the Board of Ethics’ investigation into his conduct was underway, Sunderman intentionally failed to disclose his outside employment as well as his wife’s income from the Centereach Fire District on a financial disclosure form filed with the Suffolk County Board of Ethics for the 2018 reporting year.
Following the investigation, Sunderman was indicted and arraigned on July 16, 2019.
Sunderman was represented by Raymond Perini.
This case was prosecuted by Bureau Chief Marc Lindemann and Assistant District Attorneys Kevin Ward and Sean Buckley, of the Public Integrity Bureau.