Ex-U.S. Sen. Al D’Amato (R-NY) and Chief Deputy Nassau County Executive Rob Walker gave bombshell testimony Friday during the corruption trial against New York State Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) and Skelos’ son, Adam.
Walker testified at Manhattan federal court that Senator Skelos pressed Walker’s boss, Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, for the county to pay AbTech Industries—which hired Adam Skelos at Sen. Skelos’ urging—while the senator, Walker and Mangano attended a New York City police officer’s funeral. And D’Amato said lobbyists at his company, Park Strategies, were “forcefully” opposed to working with Adam, who D’Amato warned may need to be a registered lobbyist to perform some of the activities that he did for his clients.
“The appearance of impropriety was such that we could not work together,” testified D’Amato, who said he gave Adam advice after D’Amato’s staff became concerned that Adam was employed—and not showing up—at Physicians’ Reciprocal Insurers (PRI), which hired Park Strategies to lobby Skelos in Albany.
Roslyn-based PRI and Arizona-based AbTech are two of the three companies that the former state Senate Majority Leader allegedly coerced $300,000 in bribes from in the form of no-show jobs that his son was unqualified for in exchange for illegally manipulating legislation. Both men deny the accusations.
Walker also testified that he’s under federal investigation for steering contracts to campaign donors. He was given immunity for his testimony at Skelos’ trial but not in the other case. That probe is being conducted by federal investigators on Long Island, not by the Manhattan-based prosecutors who charged Skelos, Walker explained.
After Skelos’s son first contacted Walker about AbTech, the two had a meeting about it in 2012. Later, Mangano followed up with Walker to ask the status of a Request for Proposals that the county eventually issued for storm-water-outfall pipe filters such as those AbTech manufactured—even though the county’s recovery from Sandy was the top priority at the time.
“I knew it was important to the county executive he had been contacted by the senator,” Walker testified. “If [the senator] is not happy with the actions of the county…it could potentially be a problem.”
Once AbTech eventually secured the contract, concerns arose that the company was not getting paid. Walker said he regularly fields requests from outside contractors complaining about the cash-strapped county’s being late paying its bills. While attending an NYPD funeral in January, Sen. Skelos asked Mangano about AbTech’s payments, Walker testified.
“He was asking if they were getting paid anytime soon,” Walker recalled overhearing Skelos talking to Mangano. Then Walker himself called the county Department of Public Works to relay the question, and passed along word to Skelos and Mangano that AbTech “would be getting paid very soon.”
Judge Kimba Wood gave the jury off Monday, when defense attorneys and prosecutors are expected to conference on jury instructions since the case is nearing the closing arguments. The case is scheduled to resume Tuesday.