City board of elections commissioners have quietly rehired a former aide who was cited for election improprieties following a 1995 grand jury investigation.
Victor Tosi, a close ally of Bronx Republican leader and state senator Guy Velella, has been named deputy chief clerk of the Bronx elections board at a salary of $60,000.
Borough elections clerks often make key decisions on electoral filings, and Tosi’s appointment comes as Velella faces a potentially tough reelection race this fall.
Tosi was rehired despite a 1995 state grand jury report that called for his removal along with 10 other board of elections officials for allegedly manipulating a Bronx school board election. At the time, Tosi was the board’s personnel director while also serving on Velella’s state senate payroll as a $20,000-a-year assistant.
The grand jury was convened by Manhattan district attorney Robert Morgenthau to investigate how two school board candidates allied with Velella were restored to the ballot even though they had been knocked off for having insufficient qualifying signatures.
The election commissioners later voted to put the candidates back on the ballot.
The grand jury found that Tosi “improperly interceded” with Velella’s father, Vincent, who represents Bronx Republicans on the citywide elections board.
No charges resulted from the probe, but the grand jury voted to release a 43-page report of its findings. An appellate court ruling later sealed the report, but not before copies of it had circulated widely among elections officials and the press.
Tosi later quit his board post and was named executive director-at $92,500-of the state’s Job Training Partnership Council.
Tosi referred questions to the board. Official spokesmen there failed to return calls, but Douglas Kellner, a Manhattan Democrat who serves as board president and is often at odds with board policies, said his was the sole vote against hiring Tosi.
Guy Velella, a 14-year incumbent, is being challenged for reelection by Lorraine Coyle Koppell, wife of former state attorney general Oliver Koppell. He is also facing a new Morgenthau probe of his activities.
Velella publicly acknowledged last month that investigators served search warrants on his Bronx law firm. Records were also seized at the senator’s legislative office and at his father’s home, according to law enforcement sources. The sources said the investigation is examining alleged contract payoffs.
Guy Velella has blasted the probe as “politically motivated.”