County to address nepotism allegations in New Year

Orange County. NYS Sen. James Skoufis has accused Orange County Human Resources Commissioner Langdon Chapman of using his position to enrich his family members.

| 20 Dec 2023 | 04:26

A report released earlier this month by the NYS Sen. James Skoufis alleging corruption on behalf of a political ally of Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus has drawn reactions from both sides of the political aisle after its author called for the resignation of the county’s head of human resources.

In the executive summary of the 14-page report, dated Dec. 11, 2023, State Sen. James Skoufis (D-42) alleges nepotism, fraud, and corruption on the part of Orange County Human Resources Commissioner Langdon Chapman, after $822,000 in county funds flowed to an IT company owned by Champman’s brother-in-law, Isaac Sacolick, this past year.

Prior to releasing the Dec. 11 report, Skoufis, in an Oct. 30 press release, said, “Today, my office has filed a criminal referral with both the attorney general and the Federal Bureau of Investigations regarding the alleged corruption scandal within the highest levels of Orange County government. To date, the county has not disputed one of the facts presented which point to a web of illicit, no-bid contracts designed to line the pockets of Langdon Chapman’s family. Law enforcement agencies will be the ultimate arbiter of justice.”

The report alleges that county officials ignored competitive bidding requirements by inking a $65,000, two-month agreement to exceed the bidding threshold of $100,000. Apparenly, the contract lists a duration of six months and has auto-renewal language. The contract also waives the right to cancellation.

The report says the original contract, which was executed in January 2023, called for transition services until a permanent CIO was hired. The report notes county officials never attempted to hire for the position at the end of the two-month contract period and filled it in November 2023 after concerns over the contract were raised.

“James Skoufis has had a personal vendetta against me for years,” Chapman fired back. “He is angry because I hired Dorey Houle, who is his opponent in next year’s election. Skoufis is a walking conflict of interest himself after taking $500,000 in campaign aid and sponsoring legislation to help his big donor. James Skoufis is the poster child for government corruption.”

Orange County Attorney Richard Golden told this publication that Sen. Skoufis’ so-called investigative report is incorrect on the facts, which he will show in January.

“I will be responding in detail to Sen. Skoufis’ allegations as requested by the County Legislature to demonstrate its worthlessness,” Golden stated. “But let this be clear, the procurement of the county’s contract with StarCIO was properly procured in accordance with state law and the county’s Procurement Code. Further, the fact that StarCIO’s president was the brother-in-law of the county department head for human resources is entirely legal under both state and county ethics and other laws. This relationship was properly disclosed and the department head was not part of any decision-making on the contract. Nor was the contract administered either directly or indirectly in any manner through the human resources department.”

Requests for updated comments from both the offices of Sen. Skoufis and County Exectutive Steve Newhaus were not returned.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated to note that the report was from James Skoufis’s office and not an official report issued by the State Senate Committee on Investigations and Government Operations, which Skoufis chairs and referenced in his initial report.