Update: Syosset Parent Accused of Stealing Election Documents

Parent of school board candidate walks out of district office Monday with absentee ballot paperwork, school alleges. Lafazan said the documents have since been returned to the police.

The father of a  student and  is being accused by the school district of stealing absentee ballot information. Jeffrey Lafazan, father of , went to the district's central offices and took a list of names and addresses of absentee voters -- a list he said he believed to be a copy for his own use.

The district board of education elections and budget vote are Tuesday. Josh Lafazan is on the school board.

"I went to the district to look at the absentee ballots because I expected many college students to send them in," said Jeffrey Lafazan, who went to Syosset's central administrative offices at noon Monday to look at the documents.

Lafazan said Christine Costa, the Syosset District Clerk Pro Tem, simply handed him the documents in a board room at central offices and left.

"A couple of minutes after viewing them [the documents], he just folded it, put it in his jacket pocket and left," said Syosset school security officer Joshua Okpala.

"I assumed it was a copy for me," said Lafazan, who admits taking the documents and walking to his car.

According to Nassau County Police, the incident is currently under investigation.

Details of what happened next between Lafazan and Okpala are currently unconfirmed. Okpala said he called out to Lafazan, who broke into a jog, got to his car and sped away with the documents. Lafazan says Okpala called his name, but did not pursue him and allowed him to walk to his car.

"There's a security video from the parking lot...It would be on camera," said Lafazan, adding "They called me to make an appointment to look at the documents. If they really wanted it back, why didn't they call back one minute later and tell me to bring them back?"

At 4:30 p.m. Monday, Lafazan sent his wife to return the documents to the district but found all doors locked, which was apparently attributed to a bomb scare at the nearby Jericho school district. Mrs. Lafazan then returned the documents to the second precinct.

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According to Lafazan, there is no notation on the documents saying they must remain on district premises.

"The law speaks to inspecting the document, but not taking the document," said Costa, who said Lafazan did not request to take the documents and simply left with them.

Although the documents contain no information that would hold up Tuesday's election, Costa said, they do contain names, addresses and information on disabilities which the district considers personal and sensitive details.

"It's totally untrue," said Lafazan's son and board of education candidate Josh, dismissing the claims as a smear tactic done by the district.

The district said its attorneys are currently deliberating what charges to press, if any. Meanwhile, Lafazan plans on moving on in anticipation of election day.

The  put a notice of the incident on the district website and sent out an automated telephone message to all district households.


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