FALA Award Dinner 2009 in Long Island, New York


On September 18, 2009 at the Chi Restaurant in Westbury Long Island New York, The Finnish American Lawyers Association, FALA, hosted a dinner. Many judges and political leaders of Nassau County attended the pre-dinner cocktail hour at which time an award was presented to Frederick Parola, in recognition of his years of public service. The award was presented by the President of the FALA, Robert Alan Saasto, with the Town of Hempstead Councilman Anthony Santino.

Frederick Parola’s father is Finnish, whose family came from the town of Parola in Finland. Parola is located near Hameenlinna, north of Helsinki, and is known for the tank museum located there.

After getting his law degree from Albany Law School, Frederick Parola served in the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office. After serving several years as a legislative counsel in the Assembly and Senate of the New York State Legislature, in 1978 he was elected to the New York State Assembly, where he served until he was elected as the Nassau County Comptroller, taking office in January of 1994. In this position he was regarded as a no-nonsense reformer who was responsible for overseeing all of the county’s financial operations. In January of 1992 Frederick became the Executive Director of the Town of Hempstead Industrial Development Agency, which is responsible for the attraction of new business to the Town of Hempstead.

It is interesting to note that in 1993 there were two Finnish candidates “on the ballot” in Nassau County Long Island New York running for election. John Pessala, Esq., (FALA founder) who had been serving as Counsel to the Nassau County Executive, Tom Gulotta, (who was present at this as well as many previous FALA events) was running for District Court Judge. Frederick Parola was running for Nassau County Comptroller. Both Won!!!

During the dinner, attended by over thirty participants, awards were presented to Justice John Riordan and Mauri Leppala of Finnair, as friends of FALA. John Riordan has been serving as the Surrogate Court Judge in Nassau County since 2001. As such he is the Judge in charge of all cases involving estates in the county. Mauri Leppala has been a friend and supporter of FALA since it’s inception. Mauri is in charge of all operations at Kennedy Airport for Finnair. His assistance on behalf of FALA trips to Finland has been invaluable.

FALA members attending were as follows: Honorable John Pessala (Executive Director of FALA) with his wife Honorable Elizabeth Pessala, (Westbury Village Magistrate); Robert Alan Saasto, Esq. (President FALA); Tom Hakala, Esq, (Treasurer FALA) with his wife Marilynn Hakala, Esq.; Michael Student Esq, (attorney representing many Finnish companies, with Sullivan & Worcester NYC); Petri Luukkanen, Esq. (born in Jamsa Finland, in banking NY); Mika Hallakorpi, Esq. (Director Maritime Subrogation Services LLC, NYC); Benjamin Tuiskula, Esq. (presently with Sullivan & Cromwell, a leading NYC law firm, planning on transferring to Helsinki); Katri Nygard-Troikka, Esq., (tax manager, international corporate services, KPMG, NYC); Ceri Koski, Esq. (business and family immigration, NYC); and Christine Price, Esq. (attorney with Leventhal & Sliney, Roslyn NY).

In addition to the FALA members, there were other Finnish “notables” present: Peter Harkonen-Finke (past master Sibelius Lodge); Alec Konkola (Treaurer Sibelius Lodge); Magda Konkola (New York Consulate); and Rea Nurmi (Artist, FAWN, Finlandia House).


Robert Alan Saasto, Esq.
President, FALA


FALA presenting an award to Mauri Leppälä

From left: Honorable John Pessala; Marilynn Hakala, Esq.; Michael Student, Esq.; Benjamin Tuiskula, Esq.; Ceri Koski, Esq.; Tom Hakala, Esq.; Robert Alan Saasto, Esq.; Petri Luukkanen, Esq.; Mika Hallakorpi, Esq.; Katri Nygard-Troika, Esq.; Honorable Elizabeth Pessala; and, Christine Price, Esq.

FALA presenting an award to Frederick Parola  FALA presenting an award to Judge John Riordan