Gary Melius firm got $655G in Sandy pact

Gary Melius, owner of the Oheka Castle, is

Gary Melius, owner of the Oheka Castle, is shown in Huntington. (Credit: Joe Rogate)

A firm controlled by Oheka Castle owner Gary Melius, who survived a shooting at the facility late last month, received a $655,000 contract from Nassau County to handle superstorm Sandy-related debris removal on the day the storm hit, records show.

Although ArchCon was one of Nassau's Sandy-related contractors, most of the debris removal tickets attached to the company's documentation list a company called Longo or Longo Inc. -- an Oyster Bay firm called Jim Longo Inc. or Longo Bros.

It is unclear from records that the county supplied what work ArchCon actually did since most of the tickets identified only Longo as the contractor. Until Sandy hit, computerized records dating to 2000 show that ArchCon had never received a county payment, a spokesman for County Comptroller George Maragos said.


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During and after Sandy, the county authorized emergency purchase orders for 12 companies, including ArchCon, to do debris removal and hauling for the county, said Nassau Department of Public Works spokesman Michael Martino.

Under executive orders from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo that led to similar emergency orders by Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, municipalities were able to waive usual competitive bidding requirements in the immediate aftermath of the storm.

ArchCon Design Ltd. is a design and construction firm operating out of Oheka's Huntington address, where Melius also lives. Business records list Melius as its chief executive and chairman.

Of Nassau's 12 prime debris removal vendors, one -- Looks Great Services Inc. -- received by far the largest amount of work, at more than $60 million. Seven others received $655,000 contracts -- an amount that acted as a ceiling on what the firms could charge the county for Sandy-related work. Besides ArchCon, Carlo Lizza & Sons, Grace Industries, Intercounty Paving Associates, Nicolia Ready Mix, Costanza and Landtek received those purchase orders.

ArchCon's emergency purchase order, issued on Oct. 28, 2012, allowed the firm to receive $23 per cubic yard of debris for the sorting and removing process, $52 per cubic yard for hauling the debris less than 10 miles, and $59 per cubic yard for hauling beyond 10 miles.

ArchCon, in two invoices bearing Melius' signature, later billed Nassau County a total of $458,112 worth of work -- $442,476 of it as of Dec. 31, 2012, detailing debris work that continued almost daily from Nov. 8 through Dec. 12. A second voucher claimed an additional $15,734.98 for work done on Dec. 27 and Dec. 28, Nassau County records show. The voucher amounts match what is on the tickets submitted by Longo. Each voucher lists Melius as the official responsible for certifying the company's work.

 

A significant player

Melius, who controls dozens of other companies besides ArchCon, has been a significant player in Long Island business and politics over the years, hosting fundraisers and counting many political officials among his friends.

Over the past 10 years, Melius and his wife, Pam, have donated more than $700,000 to local and state campaign committees, and since the late 1990s have given about $170,000 to federal campaigns, records show.

Melius' lawyer Ronald Rosenberg did not return calls for comment.

Martino said he did not know whether the county or ArchCon made the first contact as the storm hit Nassau County. The county has no other contracts with ArchCon and ArchCon had never done debris removal for the county before Sandy, Martino said.

"ArchCon was one of 12 companies approved by the Nassau County Legislature, which were prepared to mobilize quickly and provide critical services needed to respond to Sandy," Martino said . . . "Nassau County was fully reimbursed for the services."

Claim vouchers issued to Nassau County show that ArchCon gathered, removed and hauled debris from the Village of Laurel Hollow. Some of that debris was brought to Hicksville -- a 10.38-mile trip that allowed ArchCon to charge the $59-per-cubic-yard rate. The rest was brought to Baldwin -- a 19-mile trip at the same hauling rate. ArchCon sorted, removed and hauled a total of 5,588 cubic yards of debris, the records showed, usually making one trip a day, and handling anywhere from 20 to 400 cubic yards during each trip.

ArchCon's supporting documentation includes dozens of debris loading tickets from Looks Great. County officials said that some vendors used Looks Great tickets because they didn't have the appropriate forms of their own to use.

 

Some work details unclear

The vast majority of those tickets list Longo as the contractor. But the Oyster Bay firm was not one of the county's emergency contractors during Sandy. As a result, it is unclear how the debris removal and hauling was handled and which firm did the actual work, although county officials did confirm that they paid ArchCon -- not Longo -- for the work.

Longo is a longtime contractor for the Village of Laurel Hollow, according to village Mayor Dan DeVita, who was deputy mayor during the storm. And after Sandy, the village itself paid Longo nearly $12,000 for stump removal and emergency road clearance assistance. But because the village needed help clearing the debris, officials there turned to the county.

"Our guys localized the debris at a couple of local village sites," DeVita said. "We used the village parking lot and then it was loaded into trucks the county sent to be hauled away."

DeVita said he did not know that Melius and ArchCon were behind the county's work in the village. "We were happy with the work done here," DeVita said. "We didn't know the name of which companies [from the county] were doing it at the time."

Longo principal James Longo did not return calls for comment. But when he spoke to a reporter Friday by phone, Longo said he didn't want to talk about the work his company did.

"I'm not in the hurricane business," Longo said. "I'd have to go back through my files and that'd take time . . . I really don't want to talk about anything to do with my business. It's a private family business."

Company records list him and his brothers Paul and Don as principals in Jim Longo Inc. The firm and its principals have given a total of $1,500 to local and state Republican committees since 2008.

A man who answered a knock at the front door of the Oyster Bay residence of Paul and Annmarie Longo on Tuesday declined to answer questions about the work the Longo company did during the Sandy cleanup.

"Is this about Gary? Is this about the guy that got shot?" he asked a reporter.

Asked about work the company conducted in the Village of Laurel Hollow after Sandy, he replied: "We do a lot of work for a lot of people -- I don't want to talk to a reporter," and shut the door.

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