Associates of the Gallo campaign targeted the employment of former Marine and Iraq veteran Robert Germino at least three times between May 5 and July 31 of 2015, according to a lawsuit filed on August 21 in the state Supreme Court in Mineola by his attorney, Cynthia Kouril. City Councilman Efraim Spagnoletti is included as one of five defendants.
Most notably, the lawsuit contends that the plaintiff was defamed when a member of the Gallo cabal, Filomena Ricciardi portrayed Germino as “psychopathic” and symptomatic of post traumatic stress disorder. Mr. Germino completed a 13-month tour with the Marines in Iraq. The lawsuit includes a letter and prepared speech by Ricciardi, who has contributed $380 over three donations to the Gallo campaign this election.
The letter and prepared speech text were in response to a private Facebook conversation she had with Germino, in which he sent a link to the “What, Me Worry?” article and the two hurled insults about each others’ character. Referring to Mr. Germino’s propensity to respond, she wrote “This is a dangerous, very dangerous trait especially in consideration of his background,” in the letter. In her prepared speech, she ends that sentence “in consideration of his specialization and facility with firearms.”
The letter was sent to the mayor, city council, and mayor in an attempt to have Mr. Germino removed from the city’s charter revision commission.
Not long after, Ricciardi attempted to speak from the prepared text at a July 28 city council meeting and after being asked to stop, she approached Germino, waiving the papers and said, “this is going to your boss,” according to the lawsuit. The next day, the suit alleges that Ricciardi “sent copies of [a private Facebook conversation] and/or the text of the prepared speech to the CEO and Executive Board of [Germino’s] employer.” The suit only identifies Mr. Germino’s employer as a “large bank that has a well defined code of conduct and a well resourced internal investigations unit.”
Ricciardi’s complaint sent to Germino’s employer was not the first, but the third since May 2015 according to the lawsuit.
On April 15, Mr. Germino spoke at a city council meeting and stated publicly that Councilman Efraim Spagnoletti was the source of the pay raise story reported by The Gold Coast Beacon. This had potential consequences for Spagnoletti, who claimed that the discussions about pay raises for the mayor and council occurred in executive session, when all members are sworn to secrecy.
At the May 5 pre-council meeting, Councilman Spagnoletti was questioned about the pay raise story and in addition, his residency. Several members and the owner of the Beacon had received an anonymous mailing prior to this meeting, but neither Germino nor the Beacon were the source of the documents, which included an affidavit to the North Hempstead zoning board in which Spagnoletti swore he lived at a Greenvale address. This brought into question Spagnoletti’s eligibility to serve as a city council member.
Around May 6, the suit says an “anonymous complaint was made to Plaintiff’s employer’s tip line falsely alleging that Plaintiff had violated the employer’s social media policy.” The bank’s investigation unit investigated the complaint, which they determined and reported to Germino that it was unfounded.
On June 12, Germino and the owner of this website discovered that an early version of the Gallo campaign website could be accessed through Google’s search engine. The website had misspelled Marine Corps and other typos, which Germino found disrespectful, according to the lawsuit. The next day, the suit says that Carlos Shimabukuro, a city council candidate on the Gallo slate told Germino “that ‘they’, unnamed members or supporters of Team Gallo, had told him that Plaintiff had hacked into the Gallo website.” The suit says that Shimabukuro believed Mr. Germino’s explanation, that it was accessible through Google, and responded, “Yeah, they probably did not password protect the website,” according to the suit.
On or about June 14, “Plaintiff’s employer received a complaint that Plaintiff hacked into websites,” which resulted in another investigation that determined the allegation to be unfounded, according to the suit.