Reports Of Probe Into Dean Skelos Spark Nassau Inquiry

Dean Skelos
Ex-New York State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre)

Federal authorities are reportedly investigating New York State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) and his son, Adam—shocking news that has sparked a separate probe in Nassau County, officials said.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that Manhattan federal prosecutors have subpoenaed witnesses, including fellow elected officials from Long Island, to testify before a grand jury regarding Adam Skelos’ business dealings with a company that won a lucrative Nassau County contract. As a result, Nassau prosecutors have also begun looking into county contracts. A spokesman for Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano said that he and the county are not targets of the federal probe, but are cooperating with investigators.

“I have and will continue to cooperate with any inquiry,” Sen. Skelos said in a statement Thursday. In January, the senator had blasted an NBC New York story for reporting that he was under investigation when, he claimed, he had not been contacted by law enforcement. Christopher Conniff, an attorney for his son, did not return a call for comment.

The news comes three months after New York State Assemb. Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) pleaded not guilty to charges that he allegedly used his influence to pad his own pockets during his two-decade tenure as the Assembly Speaker. Skelos, who is equally as powerful in Albany, is part of the “Three Men In The Room” that negotiates the state’s legislative agenda with the Assembly speaker and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Declining to comment were representatives for the FBI and Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Asked if any other elected official was under investigation when Silver was arrested, Bharara had replied, “Stay tuned.”

Now the focus is on Nassau.

“One focal point has been Adam Skelos’s hiring by an Arizona company, AbTech Industries, as well as a storm-water treatment contract that AbTech was awarded by Nassau County…even though the company was not the low bidder,” the Times reported, citing anonymous sources. “Investigators are seeking to determine whether Senator Skelos exerted any influence in matters involving AbTech. They are also examining whether his son’s hiring as a consultant was part of a scheme in which the senator, in exchange, would take official action that would benefit AbTech or another company, Glenwood Management, a politically influential real estate developer that has had ties to AbTech.”

That line of inquiry has sparked a separate review by Nassau prosecutors.

“Today’s news about AbTech Industries is troubling,” Acting Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas, a Democrat, said in a statement Thursday. “My Public Corruption Bureau will conduct a comprehensive review of Nassau County contracting practices.”

When asked to confirm reports that Mangano was among those asked to testify before the grand jury—according to the Times, they included some of Skelos’ other fellow Republican state senators from LI—a spokesman for the county executive touted the transparency of Nassau government.

“Nassau County has the most transparent process known to government,” said Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin in a statement. “The County has been cooperating with law enforcement officials who have requested information relating to contracts that were awarded under an open, competitive and transparent procurement process.

“The County Executive and the County have been notified that they are not targets of the investigation,” Nevin continued, “and will continue to assist law enforcement officials in the event they require additional information regarding the methodology of this public procurement process and the specifics of how the award determination was made.”