An environmental company executive said he had no choice but to more than double the $4,000 a month he was paying a consultant whose father is New York State Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre).
AbTech Industries, an Arizona-based environmental technology company, needed to meet the $10,000 a month demands from the senator’s son, Adam Skelos, or risk losing its biggest contract, a $12-million deal to install smart sponge filters in Nassau County storm water drainage pipes, according to the executive.
“I did not believe we had any choice,” Glenn Rink, chief executive officer of AbTech, testified Tuesday during the senator and son’s corruption trial at Manhattan federal court. “The last thing I wanted to do is alienate…the senator.”
AbTech is one of three companies that the former state Senate Majority Leader allegedly coerced to get $300,000 in bribes in the form of no-show jobs that his son, Adam, was unqualified for in exchange for illegally manipulating legislation. Both Skeloses deny the accusations.
Rink said he was especially concerned about appeasing both men since AbTech needed the senator’s help in getting state legislative approval to complete the Nassau contract. That’s because under state law, government projects need to be designed by one company and constructed by another, but Nassau’s deal with AbTech called for what’s known as a design-build contract allowing the company to do both.
But after delays in getting Nassau to pay for the work it had done in preparing to install the filters and Adam’s failure to secure contracts with additional municipalities, the company considered cutting his pay, but it was reluctant because it still needed the design-build legislation approved by the senator.
“There was always the concern that if we altered his compensation,” then AbTech projects in the pipeline “could be in harm’s way,” Rink testified.
The concern came after Rink got an email from Charles Durego, general counsel and senior vice president at developer Glenwood Management Corp., which is owned by billionaire Leonard Litwin, whose family invested in AbTech. Durego previously testified at the Skelos trial that he had gotten Adam a job at AbTech in order to appease the senator as well as respond to Glenwood’s desire to avoid doing business directly with the son of the senator whom they lobbied and relied upon in legislative negotiations.
“He’s hesitant…to do it with the engineers making more money than him,” Durego said in an email to Rink on April 10, 2013, in which Durego relayed Adam’s request for a raise right before the Nassau contract was about to begin the county’s approval process. “If he doesn’t get like a 4 percent commission, I think they don’t think it’s worth pushing through.”
Rink characterized the email as “game changing.” Other AbTech officials who also received the email balked.
“I can’t believe he’s going to try to hold us hostage to renegotiate the contract,” replied Bjornulf White, an AbTech official, in an email to Rink that was shown in court. “The engineers are getting paid for labor hours to do real work. (I think around ~5500 manhours). Unreal.”
The case was adjourned for the Thanksgiving weekend and will resume on Monday morning.