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Nassau offers contract to firm under NYC probe

Looking north, West Shore Road in Mill Neck

Looking north, West Shore Road in Mill Neck is pictured Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016. Credit: Barry Sloan

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano’s administration wants to give a $1.4 million contract to an engineering company that acknowledges it’s under investigation in New York City for political contributions to public officials.

The county selected Manhattan-based HAKS Engineering after its first choice for the work was rejected for ties to a criminal case unrelated to the pact.

Public works officials in September recommended HAKS to manage the final phase of rebuilding West Shore Road, a vital arterial in Oyster Bay damaged in superstorm Sandy.

The contract was accompanied with a certificate of compliance in which HAKS chief executive Husam Ahmad — a frequent donor to politicians across the state, including Mangano — confirmed the probe by the city’s Department of Investigations.

A county legislative committee tabled the agreement earlier this month over concerns about incomplete paperwork.

Reconstructing the last stretch of West Shore Road and its deteriorated sea wall is already behind schedule, after some county lawmakers had stalled the needed borrowing in a dispute over general oversight of contracts. Construction, which was supposed to start earlier this fall, is expected to cost $15 million.

HAKS’ reference to the city investigation into its political giving came in the disclosure forms that Nassau officials strengthened last year following numerous allegations of improper political influence on its contracting system.

Ahmad wrote on Sept. 22 that “to the best of our knowledge, HAKS is the subject of an investigation regarding political contributions and the common ownership interest” of another engineering company, SIMCO.

Another form submitted by the company’s chief financial officer adds: “The business practices of HAKS or its work is not the subject of the investigation.”

On Sept. 23, Nassau public works officials sent a memo to Mangano’s chief deputy, Rob Walker, explaining that they were choosing HAKS for the West Shore Road project because the county comptroller had rejected a lower bidder — Gibbons, Esposito and Boyce — due to its connection with another criminal case.

An affiliate of Gibbons, Esposito and Boyce faces charges from the state attorney general in connection with falsified flood insurance damage reports. That company has pleaded not guilty.

In recommending HAKS for the job, Chief Deputy Public Works Commissioner Richard Millet referred to a possible federal investigation into Gibbons, Esposito and Boyce, but not the state charges.

“Due to concerns raised by a potential federal indictment, the Nassau County Comptroller has denied to certify GEB’s agreement,” Millet wrote in recommending HAKS for the job.

HAKS, in its efforts to secure the Nassau contract, on Sept. 29 provided county officials with a letter — at the county’s request — saying the city’s Department of Investigations served a search warrant at its office on Aug. 17 tied to its political contributions and SIMCO’s status as a minority owned business.

The letter provided no other details about the case. But the New York City news website DNAinfo reported last month that HAKS and SIMCO have received more than $300 million in city contracts since 2000 and that Ahmad personally bundled $6,400 in campaign contributions to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 2013 campaign.

The mayor’s campaign fundraising operation is the focus of several city, state and federal probes. De Blasio, a Democrat, denies any wrongdoing.

“Please be assured that HAKS is committed to cooperating with the investigation and is confident that it will not result in any finding that HAKS engaged in misconduct,” a HAKS official wrote to the county.

A city Department of Investigations spokeswoman declined to comment.

Nassau procurement compliance director Robert Cleary said in a statement to Newsday that the county reviewed HAKS’ explanation about the city investigation and determined “there is no basis to disqualify the firm as there is no indication of any wrongdoing.”

HAKS has received $10 million in Nassau contracts since 2011, county records show. Ahmad has contributed more than $40,000 to Mangano’s campaign over that time, according to the state Board of Elections.

In another disclosure filed with the Nassau contract, Ahmad noted a $5,000 contribution to Mangano in June and one of an undisclosed amount in September, the same month the county recommended the new contract. That contribution does not need to be filed with the state until January.

At the meeting at which HAKS’ contract was tabled, Legis. Carrié Solages (D-Elmont) questioned Ahmad’s recent contributions in the context of unrelated federal corruption charges filed recently against Mangano. Prosecutors allege Mangano received bribes and kickbacks from restaurateur Harendra Singh in exchange for county contracts.

Mangano, a Republican, has pleaded not guilty.

“To me that sounds very similar to the Singh investigation, so I just want to make sure we’re not considering this,” Solages said of HAKS’ contract.

A Mangano spokesman didn’t respond to a request for comment.


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