Attorney general subpoenas 7 Nassau offices including Mangano amid Sandy probe

Crews drop of debris at a Nassau collection

Crews drop of debris at a Nassau collection site in Eisenhower Park. (Nov. 28, 2012) (Credit: Charles Eckert)

ALBANY -- The state attorney general's office subpoenaed the office of Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and six other county agencies Tuesday amid the probe into debris-removal contracts related to superstorm Sandy, officials confirmed.

Besides Mangano, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office delivered subpoenas to the offices of Comptroller George Maragos, the county legislature, the clerk of the legislature, purchasing, public works and the county legislature's office of budget review, county officials said.

The inquiry centers on "how certain contracts and purchase orders were awarded and how contractors performed," the source said, and focuses on Looks Great Services Inc. of Huntington, as well as other companies.

Schneiderman's probe coincides with Sandy-related investigations under way on Long Island by Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota and the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division. The probes represent an intense focus on how millions of taxpayer dollars for cleanup were spent on Long Island.

A Mangano spokesman said the county was cooperating with Schneiderman's investigation.

"We look forward to working with the attorney general. All administrators have been directed to assist the attorney general with his inquiry," said spokesman Brian Nevin, who confirmed that the county offices had been subpoenaed.

A Maragos spokesman acknowledged the office had received a subpoena.

Earlier Tuesday, Maragos noted that attorney general investigators had visited his office a "couple of weeks ago."

"We fully cooperated then and we expect to continue to be cooperative," Maragos said.

Dave Arnold, a spokesman for Looks Great Services, said, "As one of the only firms that won its contract with the county through competitive bidding, Looks Great fully supports the attorney general's inquiry. Since he is interested in investigating pay-to-play, we encourage him to investigate the trade unions and their political beneficiaries, who routinely compel taxpayers to shoulder the costs of contracts that far exceed Looks Great's competitive rates."

The company previously has said it has complied with all state laws and regulations.

Since Sandy, millions of dollars in federal money have flowed to Long Island and other storm-affected areas of the Northeast for debris removal. Nassau has paid Looks Great about $35 million of $68.8 million that the county legislature approved for Sandy cleanup work.

Newsday has reported that Looks Great is among companies subpoenaed by Rice, who is examining how the county entered into agreements for post-Sandy cleanup work, as well as oversight and controls for the work. The federal investigation centers on prevailing wage requirements for federal contracts, among other issues.

Maragos noted that he sent letters last week to Rice and Schneiderman to alert them that the county Department of Public Works had submitted a $12 million payment claim from Looks Great.

Maragos said the claim "was accompanied with supporting documentation consistent with contractual obligations approved by the county legislature." But he said he was withholding the payment as an "additional layer of protection for the taxpayers" until hearing from Rice and Schneiderman.

Rice's office, in an email, told Maragos it would take no position on what action the comptroller should take. Schneiderman has yet to respond, Maragos said, and the payment is still pending.

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