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The Nassau Legislature’s Democratic minority is asking Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves to hold a special public hearing into the county’s relationship with an engineering firm now under criminal investigation for allegedly forging superstorm Sandy damage reports.
Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) sent a letter late Thursday to Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) that urged her to soon schedule the hearing and use the legislature’s subpoena power to obtain all county contract documents with the firm, GEB HiRise of Uniondale.
“I believe you are as distressed as I am when you hear that Sandy victims are still without the financial resources to rebuild more than two years after the storm,” Abrahams wrote. “To now know that there may be companies preying on these most vulnerable people during the toughest time of their lives leaves us as leaders with the absolute responsibility to be their advocates.”
Gonsalves’ office responded Friday with a statement that did not specifically answer Abrahams' request for a hearing, only saying, "If anyone believes that there is any wrongdoing on the part of a vendor doing contracted work with Nassau County, they are obligated to notify the investigating agency immediately.”
Democrats are reacting to a raid late last month by state attorney general’s office investigators of GEB’s office in connection with allegations that the contractor rewrote reports to help companies processing insurance claims underpay victims of Sandy, which struck on Oct. 29, 2012.
GEB has denied the allegations.
Abrahams letter was preceded by Legis. Laura Curran (D-Baldwin) last week sending the Nassau public works commissioner a letter requesting that the department turn over the contract documents, including vouchers and requests for payment, related to GEB HiRise.
Curran also made her request at a news conference held with the Democratic candidate for the vacant 19th legislative district, Rita Kestenbaum.
Nassau Comptroller George Maragos, a Republican, had already called on the county to suspend all contracts with the firm until the AG’s investigation is complete. Since 2011, the county has paid GEB $4.7 million.
County Attorney Carnell Foskey had said the administration of Republican County Executive Edward Mangano is reviewing all documentation related to GEB’s work for the county. But Foskey has said that he would not recommend suspending payments to GEB during the investigation, as it would expose the county to potential litigation.