Councilwoman Jodi Giglio at a candidate forum this month. File photo: Denise Civiletti

Riverhead Councilwoman Jodi Giglio had a bench warrant for her arrest in the state of California for 10 years before hiring an attorney to clear the matter up in 2009, the year she would mount a successful campaign for election to the town board.

The warrant was issued in July 1999 in connection with Giglio’s arrest on a traffic violation charge that January, according to a Fresno Superior Court docket provided to the media by Supervisor Sean Walter at a press conference this morning. Giglio had paid $432 in bail following her 1989 arrest, according to the docket papers.

Giglio was charged with reckless driving, according to the report of a private investigator whom the supervisor declined to name. A copy of an email sent by an unidentified party was included with the packet. It is signed only “Scott.”

When confronted with the information outside Riverhead Police headquarters immediately after Walter ended his press conference, Giglio — who’d approached the gathering apparently to find out what was going on — at first denied knowledge of any bench warrant.

After being given an opportunity to review the papers supplied to the media by Walter, Giglio didn’t deny the incident, but pointed out that she was not even 21 years old at the time of the incident.

“You know what? I was a kid. I made mistakes. I fixed my mistakes and I’m a law-abiding citizen today,” Giglio said.

“My girlfriends and I rented a cabin in — I forget where it was. We had a party and the cops came and told us to leave and then when we left we were stopped by police,” she said. “We weren’t even out of the property yet.”

The private investigator who supplied the docket in his accompanying email referenced “the use of alcohol” in the incident. Asked today if she had ever been arrested for driving under the influence, Giglio declined comment.

“I’m not going to answer that right now, but — because the time was very difficult for me because my father was very, very ill and I can tell you I did a lot of things when I was a kid that I’m not proud of but it helped me to be the responsible person I am today,” Giglio said.

Walter did not reveal at the press conference where he got the information; he said “somebody had some research done.”

That “somebody” was Democratic supervisor candidate Anthony Coates, who sent Walter an email on Oct. 22 purportedly from a private investigator named Scott Wilmore in Santa Rosa, California; a copy of the email from Coates to Walter was obtained by RiverheadLOCAL.

Reached by phone this afternoon and asked if he provided the information to anyone in Riverhead, Wilmore declined comment.

Coates today acknowledged he provided Walter with the information about Giglio. Asked why he did not go public with it, he said, “I’ve sort of been on a positive bent. For me, strategically, it may be a missile better kept in the silo.

“I shared the information with Sean. He’s got his own battle. It may be smart to raise this now, it may not be. He’s more in the fray of direct confrontation with her,” he said.

“That’s a choice he made. I’m not saying he made the wrong one or the right one,” Coates said.

In a phone interview this afternoon, Giglio said she is not surprised the information made public by Walter was provided by Coates.

“Coates and Walter have had their hand in Riverhead politics for more than 10 years,” she said. “This is the kind of thing they’re known for.

“It’s just ridiculous Sean’s bringing up this 26-year-old traffic infraction, but it has nothing to do with what happened 26 years ago. What is he going to bring up next — that I have an overdue library book? It’s dirty politics and shows the desperation of our supervisor. He doesn’t want to talk about the real issues, so he’s going to get dirty and sling mud,” Giglio said.

“I’m not going to get down in the mud with him. We don’t need politics like this in Riverhead. The residents deserve better.”

 

Supervisor Sean Walter outside Riverhead Police Headquarters today, the scene of a press conference about Councilwoman Jodi Giglio. Photo: Denise Civiletti
Supervisor Sean Walter outside Riverhead Police Headquarters today, during a press conference about the Suffolk police union’s involvement in the Riverhead supervisor’s race. He’s holding a poster board of mailers sent out by the county police union’s PAC. Photo: Denise Civiletti

According to a press release issued by his campaign yesterday, Walter called today’s press conference to decry the “nasty and deceptive campaign tactics” employed by the Suffolk County PBA to advance the councilwoman’s bid for supervisor, which he argues is motivated by the county police union’s desire to expand the county police district to include the Town of Riverhead. He claims Giglio is willing to take the step necessary — putting the question to a public referendum, as required by law — to allow the county takeover.

Giglio vehemently denies the supervisor’s claim. “I will never support a referendum,” she said Friday. “I will never vote for Riverhead to go into Suffolk County PD.”

The police union president denies that charge and says the county police union PAC is campaigning against the Riverhead supervisor because he is “incompetent.” Giglio, said PBA president Noel DiGerolamo would be a better supporter of law enforcement.

Giglio offered another explanation during an interview Friday afternoon.

“Sean went to the legislature and was in the back room yelling at people,” she said. “They never threatened him is what I’m being told.” She declined to name the source of the information.

She was referring to the supervisor’s attendance at a legislative committee meeting in Hauppauge last year, to speak against a plan to merge the county parks police with the SCPD.

“They never said those things,” Giglio said. “It’s him going in and yelling at everybody and putting his fist up on the air if the doesn’t get his way. We need good relationships. We need a leader that doesn’t fly off the handle if he doesn’t get his way,” she said. The campaign mounted against Walter by the Suffolk police union PAC “has nothing to do with me,” Giglio said. “Trust me, I don’t like this negative campaigning. I’ve never spoken with anyone from LI Law Enforcement Foundation. I’ve never given them any pictures. They must have taken them off my website.”

The supervisor today reiterated his position that the current election is about character, truthfulness and trustworthiness. He repeated accusations of shortcomings in Giglio’s character, pointing to her failure to obtain building permits for extensions and renovations to her Baiting Hollow home — leaving those improvements untaxed for several years, and an $89,000 federal tax lien against her home as evidence of those alleged shortcomings. The councilwoman said in 2013 her husband did the work on their home without permits at a time when she had very young children and wasn’t paying attention. The IRS lien pertains to unpaid taxes assessed her husband Michael.

“I want to be clear: this isn’t about her arrest as a young person. It’s about letting it go for two decades, having a warrant issued for your arrest because you failed to appear, and making it right only when you need to,  in order to gain public financing for your development project,” Walter said, referring to Summerwind Square, which received nearly $2 million in county subsidies in 2010. “Or when you are running for public office.”

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.