Embattled Assemblyman Vito Lopez will take a leave of absence to undergo four days of radiation treatments next week to combat another outbreak of cancer.
The scandal-tarred lawmaker and just-re-elected Brooklyn Democratic Party chairman will also need to be in isolation for five days after his cancer therapy, which begins on Oct. 7.
On Monday, Lopez’s spokeswoman Debra Feinberg confirmed this newspaper’s report that Lopez’s cancer had returned after years in remission, adding that her boss underwent surgery at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center two months ago to combat the recurrence of the disease.
“Assemblyman Lopez will be out of action only for the amount of time that most people go on vacation, and he will be available by phone for the duration of the treatment,” said Feinberg. “He will certainly not be stepping down as county [party] chairman. And his staff will be able to carry out all necessary duties until the Assemblyman has recovered.”
Lopez’s treatment includes four days of intensive nuclear radiation and five days of “complete isolation.”
It is unclear how long Lopez’s recovery is expected to take, but Feinberg said that he’s not worried. “The Assemblyman’s expectation is to successfully fight the most recent occurrence of cancer just as he has for two decades,” she said.
The latest setback for Lopez comes amid three investigations into the finances of the nonprofit he founded, the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council.
Lopez has not been directly connected to the city’s investigation, but sources believe that two federal probes are looking into Lopez’s relationship with the nonprofit and for-profit developers that have constructed dozens of residential buildings containing more than 1,000 apartments since 1976.
The Department of Investigation recently found egregious fraud at the nonprofit, including bad record keeping, board members who had no clue about how the organization was run, services that the city funded yet were never actually provided, and huge salaries for Lopez’s girlfriend and his campaign treasurer at Ridgewood Bushwick.
In addition, Lopez was criticized last month for calling a city official to demand that he provide evidence in an election case.
And this week, a Ridgewood Bushwick building superintendent came forward to say that he was fired for supporting a political rival during last year’s contentious city council campaign.
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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