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AbTech: We're 'not a target' in Skelos-related federal probe into corruption

State Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre), Long Island's

State Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre), Long Island's highest-ranking legislator and majority leader of the Senate, is the focus of a federal investigation into allegations of corruption. Above, Skelos in July 2012. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

ALBANY - A company that won a Nassau County environmental contract said Friday it is not a target of a federal probe involving State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, but pledged to cooperate with investigators.

"AbTech has become aware of news stories that mentioned it in regards to an investigation of a New York legislator," the company said in a statement. "AbTech is a company of integrity and transparency, from its executive officers to its field employees. AbTech is not a target of any investigation and intends to fully cooperate with investigators involved in the New York probe."

Skelos' son, Adam, was working as a consultant to Arizona-based AbTech Industries and had introduced county public works employees to the company, a source has told Newsday. AbTech Industries received a $12 million storm-water treatment contract from Nassau County in 2013, records show. The company produces technology to remove pollutants and debris from storm-water drainpipes before runoff reaches waterways.

AbTech, on Long Island, also has contracts with Babylon and Sag Harbor village governments.

Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, is probing whether Skelos exerted any influence in matters involving AbTech and a New Hyde Park real-estate firm, Glenwood Management, The New York Times first reported that late Wednesday, and Newsday reported that Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano testified last week before a federal grand jury looking into the case.

A Mangano spokesman has said the county executive wasn't a target in the investigation.

AbTech defended the Nassau contract, saying it was awarded properly. "The process through which local authorities selected AbTech was comprehensive and diligent, involving several levels of Nassau County government," the company said. " . . . AbTech is proud of its long history of good corporate citizenship and to have earned this contract after thorough and fair review process conducted by Nassau County."

A spokesman didn't respond to follow-up questions.

State records show that an AbTech subsidiary and Glenwood Management both hired the same veteran Albany lobbying firm in 2014.

AEWS, a North Carolina-based engineering firm that securities filings show is 80 percent owned by AbTech, hired Meara Avella Dickinson as a lobbyist. Glenwood, one of the largest campaign contributors in New York, employed a slew of lobbyists in 2014, including Meara, including Meara, records show.

AbTech and Glenwood also have ties through Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Waterkeeper Alliance, an environmental group he leads.

Kennedy, who praised AbTech when it was awarded the Nassau contract, was named to AbTech's advisory board in 2010. AbTech CEO Glenn Rink is chairman of the board of directors of Waterkeeper. The environmental group's "trustee council" includes Rink and Charles Dorego, a Glenwood Management senior vice president.

A Waterkeeper spokesman declined comment, referring to the reports of the investigation as "entirely outside the scope of our work."

AbTech has other contracts on Long Island. Village officials in Babylon and Sag Harbor that do use the company's sponges said they were unaware of Skelos' involvement in the technology.

In 2006, Babylon Village installed the "Smart Sponge" technology from AbTech Atlantic in vaults to treat stormwater runoff before entering the Great South Bay. Mayor Ralph Scordino said the approximately $300,000 project has been "very effective" at treating runoff.

"Senator Skelos or his son never approached anyone at the village, as far as my knowledge," Scordino said. "I'm sure someone like that would've raised a flag with someone here."

Dee Yardley, Sag Harbor superintendent of public works, said the village installed the sponges near Havens Beach in June 2013. "We had no problem with the vault or the sponges," he said.

With David Schwartz

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