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Project bid endangered if he didn't give Adam Skelos a raise, exec testifies

Adam Skelos arrives at Federal Court in Manhattan

Adam Skelos arrives at Federal Court in Manhattan for his trial on Monday, Nov. 30, 2015. Credit: Charles Eckert

Top AbTech Industries executive Bjornulf White thought Sen. Dean Skelos would kill his company's pending bid for a $12 million storm water cleanup project with Nassau County if Adam Skelos, an AbTech consultant, wasn't given a substantial raise, the executive testified Monday at the Skeloses' corruption trial in federal court in Manhattan.

The senator had a "close relationship" with Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, White testified, and Adam Skelos spoke and texted frequently with Mangano's top aide, First Deputy County Executive Rob Walker, who arranged for White to receive a letter from the county spelling out the award of the contract to AbTech before a crucial shareholders meeting.

Adam Skelos, who was initially paid a $4,000 monthly consulting contract with AbTech, pushed for an increase to $10,000 in early April 2013, as AbTech was in the midst of applying for the Nassau contract, White testified. Adam Skelos got a raise in July 2013 after the Nassau Legislature approved the contract, White said.

White, Adam Skelos' direct supervisor at AbTech, testified his understanding was: "If AbTech increases his pay and takes care of Adam, his father would take care of AbTech."

Father and son face bribery, extortion and conspiracy charges on allegations the senator used his power as then Senate Majority Leader to force three companies -- AbTech, New Hyde Park-based Glenwood and Roslyn-based Physicians Reciprocal Insurers -- to hire Adam Skelos in exchange for legislation that would be favorable to their business interests.

From late 2012 through 2013, White grew frustrated with government bureaucracy's slow pace, he testified, and frequently emailed Adam Skelos asking for updates as the contract process played out. Adam Skelos wrote in one email to White: "Seeing the county executive tonight and will follow up."

Adam Skelos frequently emailed Walker as he sought insight into the county's bidding process, in order to respond to White, according to emails the prosecution showed the jury during White's testimony.

Even after the county chose AbTech, there were other hurdles -- the legislature and the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, the county's fiscal watchdog, which had to approve the contract. In an April 30, 2013, email, Adam Skelos wrote to White after he didn't get an immediate response from Department of Public Works Commissioner Shila Shah-Gavnoudias: "Will have my father call Ed [Mangano] this Thursday if I don't hear from her by tomorrow."

As White fretted that the company needed written assurances from the county it had received the contract, even as it awaited NIFA approval, Walker eventually got the county to write a letter to AbTech.

John Cameron, president of Woodbury-based Cameron Engineering, which also worked on the Nassau project, emailed Dean Skelos he had sent Walker a draft of what the letter should say. "I was careful of what I put in the email as you never know where it could wind up. Glad it finally got done!" Dean Skelos replied: "All happy."

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