Former North Fork Savings Bank President and Chief Operating Officer Thomas Finnie and his wife Linda Finnie, both of Mastic, posted more than $2 million in severance packages to themselves and left a simple parting message for their own children.
The unsigned farewell note posted to the car they left outside the office when they abruptly left Covid Financial Group in Mastic Thursday has drawn angry reactions. Many people questioned the nature of the goodbye note, said it lacked gratitude and seemed callous to those left behind.
Many Long Islanders have struggled to understand why this would be the end for the couple, who also ran their own investment business called Giovanni’s Town Properties. They were known to frequent charity galas for helping charities, but according to statements of their financial dealings and their reports to the Internal Revenue Service, the couple never recorded a profit.
Two former colleagues who declined to be identified said they recalled the Finnies were brimming with pride about making contributions to the community. An employee at a Mastic restaurant said they were always willing to come in for lunch.
The note posted to Linda Finnie’s car was left behind with her car as she left the office Thursday, and included in the note was a message that read “Thank you for all the years of friendship” and “In lieu of a donation you can give to the Jamesport Elementary School Memorial Fund.”
Ronald Lee, spokesman for the Jamesport Fire Department, said the fund was started after two firefighters died on duty in the line of duty. Peter Cartwright, Jamesport Fire Department chief, said the fund was started over the phone.
“Tom had never met Peter before, but he bought a bake sale for the Fire Department to help out,” Lee said.
Michelle Tillman, manager of the Mastic Beach Fire Department, said she had worked with Finnie at the department for almost 20 years. “We didn’t have any financial dealings. We were just basically like a sisterhood,” she said.
According to someone who was in the public relations office at Covid Financial Group Monday, the company received a call about employees not getting paid. The phone was then answered by an unidentified male and the employee on duty read out the company’s policy for handling missing payroll funds and about contacting police in the event of missing funds.
Covid attorney Jacob Garcia said the company made payments on Friday to employees who were owed and plans to work with the FBI to “recover this money for its investors.”
“The employee that was terminated has been terminated as a result of a computer issue with the office bank in Cedarhurst,” Garcia said. “The incident is being addressed as a criminal matter as well as a financial investigation by the FBI.”
The resignation and firing of the Finnies came hours after Thomas Finnie appeared on a Fox News segment to talk about the company’s operations and some of the challenges they had faced in recent years.
In that interview, he spoke about the debt that was due to the IRS and how the company had about $1.8 million in loans against the company that it had to pay down.
“It’s done. We have paid $1.8 million of the $2 million we owe the IRS,” he said in the interview, shown on Long Island affiliate WLNY on Thursday. “I’m very happy with the stock value right now and we’ve paid this debt off.”
Then he asked: “So when was the last time you asked the IRS for a wage withholding statement?”
A call to the News 12 Long Island newsroom was not immediately returned on Monday.
On their website, the Finnies had proposed as the solution to rising real estate prices: buy an additional townhouse for their family in Wading River, east of Mastic. Linda Finnie was quoted on the website as saying, “We bought another townhouse so that we could share the same driveway and the same parking spaces.”
According to news reports, the couple had lived in their homes at Mastic Beach for 28 years, but all public records appear to reflect that they never owned the two Mastic properties.