Queens Council Member Joann Ariola takes aim at Ozone Park civic leader for alleged harassment of her staff

Sam Esposito (left) is accused of harassing Council Member Joann Ariola’s Chief of Staff Phyllis Inserillo in the form of letters sent to the district office, private messages, and alleged stalking.

A civic leader in Ozone Park is facing potential legal troubles after two complaints filed with the NYPD over harassment in the form of letters, online messages, and alleged stalking, have become known to the public.

In a video obtained by QNS, City Council Member Joann Ariola blasted Sam Esposito, president of the Ozone Park Residents Block Association, for an alleged history of harassment towards her staffers.

Ariola reveals two criminal complaints for harassment against Esposito were filed by her Chief of Staff Phyllis Inserillo as a result of documented pestering turned threatening. The conflict between the two public figures comes after a sudden turnabout from Esposito, who has praised the council member for her community work in the past.


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Esposito, who has a large social media following, denies the accusations of harassment.

“Whether it’s on Facebook or in written letter form, Sam Esposito continues to malign members of this community that work very hard for you,” Ariola says in the video.

Ariola continues in the video to claim Esposito was seen stalking Inserillo in a vehicle not owned by him, threatened Community Liaison Linda Fogle with the possible towing of her son’s car, and sent accusatory letters to her office.

In one of the letters sent the Ariola’s office by Esposito in November 2023, obtained by QNS, the civic leader claims he was “publicly humiliated” by Inserillo when she said “hello ladies” while he sat at a table with six women. One of the ladies, the letter reads, was a deputy commissioner.

Esposito writes in the November letter that Inserillo’s remarks were homophobic and if an apology wasn’t released, he would expose her to the press and ask the city council to sanction her, along with seizing Ariola’s office.

The letter is specifically mentioned by Ariola in the shared video, seen first in a post made by the Queens Chronicle, as one example of Esposito’s documented cases of harassment.

“What kind of nonsense is this? I am a duly elected official by you and I shouldn’t have to be standing before you to talk about this,” Ariola adds in the recorded video obtained by QNS – stating further that he has crossed the line.

In another interaction from Esposito through email and seen by QNS, Inserillo is told to stay away from the Ozone Park Residents Block Association following what he claims are rumors that the chief of staff allegedly spread about him.

“Please stay away from the OZPKRBA and the Lions. You are not welcome anymore. We will stay far apart from you because I do not want to be part of your hate campaign or associated with someone that is so divisive,” the email reads. “It has gotten out of hand, and the entire neighborhood is talking about you. If there is a downfall to Joann, it will be your fault.”

Esposito goes on to say in the email that he doesn’t need Inserillo to continue his civic work in Ozone Park, and that he similarly accomplished tasks without the help of the former Council Member Eric Ulrich.

At the end, Esposito signs the email “Sam ‘George Santos’ Esposito. By the Way, I made Bail today.” It is unclear if Esposito was comparing himself to Santos as a means to mock the disgraced Congress Member or revel in his reappearance.

Inserillo, who is also a seasoned civic leader and co-president of the Howard Beach Lindenwood Civic group, mentions the email directly in her remarks recorded in the video obtained by QNS. She also adds that the Council Woman’s office stands by its commitments to the public.

“He has made up lies that they (board members) have admitted are lies. He has said that I have said things that would never come out of my mouth. He has badmouthed the 106th Precinct for the last time, Sam Esposito.”

Esposito denied all claims of harassment and bullying of Ariola’s staff, and took to Facebook in a public statement to voice his thoughts on what he called a “verbal attack” faced at that civic meeting.

In his explanation, Esposito confirms that his problem was specifically with Ariola’s chief of staff for saying “untrue or misleading things,” and not necessarily the councilwoman herself.

In a Facebook statement, Esposito highlights community issues, claiming Ariola’s team and others wrongly took credit for his initiatives like securing a street sweeper, organizing graffiti removal, expanding Christmas lights, and animal rescue efforts.

Overall, Esposito states in his public statement on Facebook that the actions of Ariola took away from talking about key issues in the neighborhood, such as the occurrence of four different robberies, and the appointments of the cop-of-the-month awards by the NYPD 102nd Precinct.

He asserts health issues with his liver and medications are the reason for his rhetoric toward the Councilwoman and her staffers. Additionally, Esposito mentions his Italian heritage as one of the reasons for his tone.

“I apologize if my brashness has upset people; I will work on this to become a better leader. No one is perfect or without sin. We all have done things or said things we regret looking back on.”

Critics of Esposito say he has claimed responsibility for the work of others and organizations for years on his Facebook group, with upwards of 29.5k members, and has gone after anyone who says otherwise.

In a lawsuit filed in 2023 against members of the Cityline Ozone Park Civilian Observation Patrol, a group he allegedly helped to establish, Esposito claims members of the patrol group wrote a defamatory post about him on their Facebook page.

According to the complaint, as seen in court filings, Esposito accuses the group for spreading false accusations about him, including that he did not start a food pantry run by the group, never ran the pantry,  harassed minors, sexually harassed volunteers as young as 15-years-old, and that he was asked to leave the pantry due to the alleged sexual harassment.

The lawsuit is filed against eight defendants, all part of the City Line Ozone Park Civilian Patrol seeks monetary compensation and a public letter of apology.

Esposito’s name has also made its way to the center of media coverage before — a fact he also pointed out in his public statement on Facebook.

Esposito, a former cop from 1986 to 2005, was arrested in a social security scam bust in 2014, where retired members of the NYPD and FDNY – with some caught lying about their involvement at Ground Zero during the attacks on 9/11 – collected disability benefits.

Esposito pleaded guilty to criminal facilitation in 2018 as part of a plea deal.

Any alleged animosity towards Ariola’s office from the civic leader wasn’t always the case. In 2022, Esposito made dozens of posts on Facebook praising Ariola for her community improvement efforts from street clean-ups to the addition of a new welcome to Ozone Park signage.

A change in tone towards the elected official began sometime in 2023 according to Facebook posts mentioning Ariola’s office.

Despite the pushback, Esposito has continued to serve as a voice and advocate in Ozone Park without any recorded instances of opposition forcing the civic leader to step down.

If a pattern of harassment is established by law enforcement, further legal action in the form of an order of protection could be issued. Higher degrees of harassment aimed specifically to public servants could also end with a misdemeanor charge.