Kamlesh Mehta, publisher of the South Asian Times, and a close associate of indicted Bethpage restaurateur Harendra Singh, has resigned as Nassau County’s director of business and economic development, amid a Newsday examination of his role in the county administration.
The resignation by Kamlesh Mehta as Nassau County Director of Business and Economic Development has created a huge stir in a leading mainstream media group and Indian American media. He was portrayed more than just having resigned from a government position by scrutinizing his public records of three decades in USA, resulting in clouds of thick doubts and negative rumors about him.
Born and brought up in Beawar, Rajasthan, Mehta started his diamond business in Mumbai before moving to New York in 1986 according to a September 2011 report by the Indo Asian News Service.
Before Mangano appointed him to his latest position in September 2011, Mehta was deputy director in the Nassau County Office of Economic Development since January 2010.
He was appointed deputy director when Mangano got elected by a thin margin over his opponent, a two-term incumbent. According to Newsday, Mehta boasted to Indian-Americans that he was responsible for getting those few votes that catapulted Mangano to office, which even if not true, is not an offense.
Newsday points to Mehta’s Facebook account carrying pictures of him handing out proclamations to Indian-Americans “burnishing” his image as a businessman. Quoting unnamed “associates” of Mehta, Newsday said, “Landing a job in Mangano’s administration enhanced Mehta’s stature in the Indian-American community, associates said, and he was seen as a conduit to influential county politicians.” But the report does not say if this is unusual or peculiar to this particular case, considering that political patronage pervades the entire American system.
Newsday questioned why Mehta was appointed to his position despite his checkered financial past — his home was foreclosed in 1999; he filed twice for bankruptcy and defaulted on payments. There are also lawsuits filed by those he borrowed or bought goods from and allegedly did not pay back. The report also reveals that the state of New York issued a $10,827 tax warrant against Mehta’s private business this February.
In September, the Newsday, a daily from Long Island, NY filed two Freedom Of Information Requests with Nassau County for records of Mehta’s work in office as well as his role in presenting honorary proclamations to the Indian American community, but it did not receive responses by the time Mehta resigned.
On being a publisher of a most honorable, family-oriented weekly newspaper, Mehta said, “I am a strong advocate of Truth & Transparency. I did not decline to reply to the questions of the daily’s reporter. I, rightfully, wanted a written interview to avoid unwarranted sensationalization through selective quotes and remarks.”
On his resignation, Mehta, who was a diamond merchant, said, “Though the formal resignation was submitted on Oct 1st, it was first verbally mentioned back in June 2015 when my son decided to move out of state for his MBA starting in August 2015, and I was also assuming the leading office of an international service organization in July 2015. I had foreseen the pressing demands and need of more time for family enterprises and prior social commitments.
What was the big deal about resigning from a job? Thousands of employees resign everyday to move on their progressive path.”
According to him, “Though the indicted friend has filed not-guilty to the charges, if the media or anyone addresses me as if I am guilty by association, all those thousands of people are also guilty who are somehow linked with me. I will let my friends and readers decide on that.”
As per Mehta, “It was an additional demand by NYS on levy against employees related issue, which was promptly paid in full. Our accountants are working with NYS Tax Departments to get the refund.Yes, there were two dismissed, personal bankruptcies filed back in 1999-2001 to save the large equity in my home, which went into foreclosure due to huge losses in jewelry business & stock market. What was wrong with it? I never hide it, ever.”
Mehta points out that three disputes from the public record have been mentioned from his almost 30 years of business life in USA. There could be more, and more disputes can happen in future too if I am alive and keep dealing with other humans. “I will not say much on the pending case, except that in the claimed transaction of the year 1992-93, the monies were never taken by me or by/for any of my businesses. And there is also a Counterclaim in the amount of 7 digits filed by me against the Certified Public Accountant in the same matter. To the statements of the CPA, if published accurately in the news story, my response is: Everyone who knows us knows us well, they all know who is truthful, genuine, and a good person with pure mind, heart and soul. I also believe in Karma – only time will tell who did well. I have forgiven the sinners, hope God will also forgive them.”