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More municipalities suspend contracts with Nassau Suffolk Truck

Suffolk County, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Brookhaven Town have joined Nassau in suspending contracts with a Bay Shore company that Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice is investigating for allegedly overbilling Nassau by as much as $322,000 through falsified invoices.

According to an audit last month by Nassau Comptroller George Maragos, the company, Nassau Suffolk Truck, schemed to defraud the county by submitting dozens of false and inflated claim vouchers.

Maragos' staff met with Rice's office on Aug. 1 and turned over the vouchers, said Jostyn Hernandez, a spokesman for the comptroller's office.

Rice spokesman Shams Tarek said the office is investigating the allegations but declined to elaborate.

George Dazzo, a Patchogue attorney who represents Nassau Suffolk Truck, said company owner Kirk Lombardi has voluntarily turned over six boxes of Nassau invoices to Rice's office in an "effort to clear his name and restore his good reputation."

Dazzo said the company remains open but that the "accusations have put a serious dent in his business and threatened its future operations."

In an Aug. 1 email, Lombardi said he was "not aware of any problems in our dealings with Nassau County. . . . We wish to reassure our customers that we are not aware of any wrongdoing and that we will fully cooperate with any investigative agencies involved in this process."

Nassau has paid the company $2.5 million since 2009 to repair, paint and maintain public works, vehicles and Nassau Inter-County Express buses. Nassau halted payments to the company after Maragos' audit.

Justin Meyers, a spokesman for Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, said Suffolk has "frozen" its contract with Nassau Suffolk Truck during Rice's investigation. Suffolk hired the company in 2011 to repair snow removal equipment and twice extended the contract, records show. Suffolk has paid the firm a total of nearly $1 million, Meyers said.

Brookhaven, which gets services through Suffolk's contract with Nassau Suffolk Truck, will not use the firm during Rice's investigation, said town spokesman Kevin Molloy.

The MTA, which gave Nassau Suffolk Truck a three-year contract for about $325,000 last year to repair truck trailers, will make no more payments until the agency's inspector general completes an investigation, said MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz. The MTA has paid the firm about $80,000 to date, Ortiz said.

Hempstead Town, which has paid Nassau Suffolk Truck more than $1.8 million since 2004, will continue doing business with the company, said town spokesman Mike Deery. "The town has not determined any improprieties that would cause the town to suspend payments or curtail the use of the company's services," he said.

New York City's Department of Transportation uses the firm through a contract with the Department of Citywide Administrative Services. A spokeswoman said the DOT was reviewing the contract but would continue using the firm because it had "not found any issues" with the company.

Maragos' investigators last year examined 26 Nassau Suffolk Truck invoices and said all were "fraudulent." For instance, the company submitted an invoice for $2,386 for 12 spray liner kits, used to coat truck beds, that it purchased from a Bohemia store. Auditors who visited the store found only two kits were purchased, for $580. Nassau Suffolk Truck contracts with the towns of Islip and Huntington have expired and have not been renewed, officials said.

Nassau is the only municipality to have raised the issue of improper billing by the firm.

Lombardi has donated $127,435 to Republican and Democratic candidates since 2010, while Nassau Suffolk Truck and its subsidiaries have made an additional $50,945 in contributions, state Board of Election records show.

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