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Adam Skelos: Nassau contract delays meant political payback

New York State Senator Dean Skelos, right, and

New York State Senator Dean Skelos, right, and his son Adam Skelos, left, leave Federal Court in Manhattan on Monday, Nov. 15, 2015. Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang

Recorded phone conversations played in court Tuesday reveal Adam Skelos invoking his father — then the most powerful Republican in the state — as he warned that Nassau County would pay a political price in Albany for delaying a $12 million contract on which he consulted.

Nassau County was “burning bridges left and right” by dragging out the AbTech contract,” according to the recordings of Adam Skelos. “I tell you the state will not do a [expletive] thing” for the county, he said in December.

Prosecutors played more than two dozen phone conversations Tuesday at the federal trial of Adam Skelos and his father, Sen. Dean Skelos in Manhattan.

Federal agents recorded the conversations in late 2014 and early this year between Adam Skelos and Bjornulf White, his boss at AbTech Industries. At the time, Adam Skelos worked as a consultant for AbTech, which had a $12 million stormwater cleanup contract with Nassau but was growing impatient with the county’s pace at releasing funds.

Other conversations recorded and heard in court Tuesday took place earlier this year between Adam Skelos and his father, then state Senate majority leader.

The Skeloses face bribery, extortion and conspiracy charges on allegations the senator used his power as 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 favorable to their business interests.

Court documents allege Skelos and Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano talked about the stalled AbTech contract during the January services for a slain NYPD officer and Mangano aides promised to move it along.

In the recorded conversation with White, Adam Skelos brags to his boss that his father would talk with Mangano at the service about issues with the contract.

“You find that wakes and funerals, you get a lot of business done,” the younger Skelos told White, according to a recording played Tuesday.

On another tape, Dean Skelos tells Mangano in a telephone call recorded Jan. 4 that they would talk later that day at the services in Brooklyn.

White testified Monday he thought Dean Skelos would kill his company’s contract if Adam Skelos was not given a substantial raise. The senator had a “close relationship” with Mangano, White testified, and Adam Skelos spoke and texted frequently with Mangano’s top aide, First Deputy County Executive Rob Walker, White said.

Adam Skelos was initially paid a $4,000 monthly consulting contract with AbTech, but 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.

Adam Skelos insisted on the recordings that he’d done nothing wrong in urging favorable treatment for AbTech.

“I don’t do lobbying. I do consulting,” he said in a Feb. 13 conversation with White.

Nevertheless, after the indictment of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in early February, both Adam and Dean Skelos became much more guarded in their telephone conversations. Silver was convicted on federal corruption charges Monday.

When Adam Skelos made an oblique reference to his work during a Feb. 24 telephone call with his father, Dean Skelos interrupted to say: “Right now we are in dangerous times, Adam.”

Adam Skelos bought a burner phone, more difficult to trace, and had White mail documents to his home to avoid using emails that could be scooped up by federal investigators, according to court testimony.

When White questioned whether his company would get favorable action, Adam Skelos said in late February that he would speak to his father in person after the legislative week ended.

Adam Skelos called White back at the end of the week to report that he had spoken to his father and “My dad said he’s definitely going to do it.”

White testified that he did not know his telephone conversations were being recorded until FBI agents came to his Connecticut home on Feb. 5. He signed a cooperation agreement on April 8 after knowingly recording several more conversations with Adam Skelos.

He said he was promised by federal prosecutors that he would not be charged with any crimes as long as testified truthfully.

 

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