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George Maragos suspends payments to engineering firm

Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos speaks in Mineola

Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos speaks in Mineola on June 12, 2013. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

Nassau Comptroller George Maragos Monday said he is suspending payments to a Uniondale engineering firm and rejecting its new $1.5 million county contract after the state attorney general charged HiRise Engineering PC with multiple felonies for allegedly forging Superstrom Sandy damage reports.

Maragos called on public works officials last year to suspend all contracts with Gibbons, Esposito and Boyce Engineers, which shares office space and employees with HiRise, after a raid by the state attorney general. By then, the county had paid GEB $4.7 million since 2011 on various contracts.

Maragos said Monday that the county attorney told him he could not hold up payments because the firm had not been convicted of a crime. County officials said the opinion was based on a state Department of Transportation decision that GEB was “a responsible bidder” eligible for a state contract.

“In light of the attorney general’s indictment containing multiple charges, in our opinion, the entire firm has been indicted and the county should suspend all business relationships with the firm immediately,” Maragos said.

Maragos said his office has about $50,000 in pending claims from the company, and that he received a new $1.5 million contract Monday. “We are not going to approve that contract unless we get a court order,” Maragos said.

Ed Ward, a spokesman for County Executive Edward Mangano, said the county attorney will check with the attorney general to see it GEB is still deemed a responsible bidder. “Then we will determine whether we go forward with the contract or rebid it,” said Ward.

HiRise’s attorney Kenneth C. Murphy said “GEB is the one with the contracts, not HiRise.” He added, “until we speak to the county attorney and see what the claims are in this regard, I have no comment.”

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