Jun 19

Freeport Fire Official Cleared in Mail Fraud

Freeport Fire Official Cleared in Mail Fraud
DATE: 09-12-2000

A federal jury in Central Islip has acquitted a Freeport official on charges of conspiring to use the U.S. Postal Service to defraud two insurance companies.

Raymond Maguire, 41, executive director of the Freeport Fire Department, a former fire chief and a two-time former president of the local chamber of commerce, had been charged with one count of conspiracy and 10 counts of mail fraud in preparing repair estimates for a Lawrence catering firm burned in 1994. He was a public adjuster at the time, and was later accused of inflating the cost of repairs for a variety of equipment.

The U.S. attorney’s office did not return phone calls yesterday.

Maguire’s attorney, Stephen Scaring of Garden City, said some members of the jury were so pleased with their verdict Friday that they hugged Maguire’s family afterward. “One of the jurors called three of the prosecution’s witnesses ‘Moe, Larry and Curly, the three stooges,'” Scaring said.

The prosecution called 20 witnesses in the three-week trial. “And most of them ended up testifying for the defense,” Scaring said.

The most important of the prosecution’s witnesses was Robert Kanowitz, 45, of Wantagh, who had been the general manager of the catering firm. “And he admitted on the stand that he had lied to the grand jury that indicted Mr. Maguire, telling them,” said Scaring, “that my client had inflated the value of a piece of equipment to $70,000, when in fact no such equipment existed. He also admitted that he would lie in order to gain immunity from prosecution.”

The jury’s verdict took less than seven hours, and that included three readbacks of testimony, Scaring said.

Maguire said he was helped through “this terrible ordeal” by the support of his family and friends. “[And] I was blessed to be represented by Stephen Scaring…[whose] skillful and precise cross examination …allowed the jury to learn the truth.”

Mayor Bill Glacken, who kept Maguire in his job after the indictment, said: “I knew all along that Ray Maguire would be vindicated. We’ve known him for a long, long time. He is a valued member of the business community, the fire department and the village.”