The district manager of Community Board 18 blew off the panel’s monthly full board meeting on Wednesday night, one day after her political patron and roommate, state Sen. Carl Kruger, abandoned months of lies and admitted that he took close to $1 million in bribes.
Dorothy Turano — who has been beside Kruger as he rose from CB18 chair to the Senate in 1994 — skipped the meeting and avoided potentially embarrassing questions from reporters and the public.
Officially, Turano’s absence was a vacation, CB18 Chairman Sol Needle announced halfway through the public meeting.
“Dottie Turano’s on a holiday vacation until after the new year,” he said. “She asked me to extend best wishes to all of the Jewish faith for a happy Hanukkah and for everyone celebrating Christmas, a joyous Christmas.”
Needle declined to say whether the vacation had been pre-planned or whether it was hastily planned after Kruger’s guilty plea on Tuesday morning.
“All I know is she’s entitled to her vacation and she took it,” Needle told us. No other board members spoke about Kruger or Turano at all. When the Kruger scandal broke in March, the board sent Turano flowers and a “We Love You” balloon in support.
But others were less deferential, given the number of reporters in the room — two! — and neighborhood residents eager to hear from a leader of a community board that has so long been associated with Kruger.
“There are so many questions she would be bombarded with, it’s probably a good thing she didn’t come,” said Canarsie resident Elias Weir.
Questions could have included:
• What is the current status of her relationship with Kruger, with whom she shares a multi-million, garishly decorated Mill Basin home?
• How is Kruger’s relationship with her son, Michael Turano, who is Kruger’s lover, according to the FBI?
• Did she benefit from the $1 million in bribes from lobbyists and developers that Kruger took in exchange for pulling strings and flexing his political connections?
• What will Kruger do now that he has resigned in disgrace?
• Why did she and Kruger long poses as sweethearts — showing up and leaving meetings together — all these years?
Dottie Turano hasn’t been charged, but the 22-year CB18 district manager is mentioned frequently in the FBI complaint against Kruger, most notably for helping developer Aaron Malinsky by maneuvering the board to reject a rival builder’s development proposal.
Malinsky, it turned out, was bribing Kruger, authorities said.
“Decisions are not made in this community unless they are presented to elected officials,” she said at the time.
It is unclear if Turano is facing charges; U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s corruption probe continues — and investigators are looking into seizing Turano’s home, he said.
Kruger’s resignation — and Turano’s “vacation” — are punctuation marks on a year-long investigation into Kruger, who was ultimately charged in March with using his office as a personal piggy bank filled by lobbyists in exchange for his help on legislative matters.
In the end, Kruger pleaded guilty to accepting $1 million in exchange for:
• Delaying the expansion of a bill that included a five-cent deposit on bottled water. Lobbyist Richard Lipsky allegedly paid Kruger to not add bottled water to the bill, although it was ultimately added and passed in 2009. Despite that, Kruger put in legislation to delay the implementation of the deposit law until January, 2010.
• Altering the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law so grocery stores could begin selling wine. Kruger also helped forward legislation that would expand hours for liquor stores. All of this was done at the behest of Lipsky, who represents supermarket and liquor store retailers, federal investigators allege.
• Fighting Walmart. The indictment alleges that Lipsky, who had been hired by the Food and Commercial Workers Union, paid Kruger to speak out against Walmart and other big box stores planning on coming to Brooklyn.
• Going to war with Native Americans. Kruger’s 2009 push to force Indian reservations to collect states sales taxes on cigarettes sold there was bankrolled by Lipsky on behalf of a supermarket chain tired of being undercut by cheaper cigarettes sold on native lands.
Reach reporter Colin MIxson at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (718) 260-4514.