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Suffolk audit says trucking firm improperly billed county

An audit by Suffolk Comptroller John Kennedy has found that Nassau Suffolk Truck filed 328 false and altered documents, improperly billing the county $145,495 for the repair of trucks and buses.

Kennedy has turned the findings over to District Attorney Thomas Spota.

His audit, released late last week, comes after Nassau Comptroller George Maragos last year found that the firm may have overbilled Nassau by $322,000. Suffolk, along with Nassau, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Brookhaven, have suspended contracts with the business.

Kennedy said the Bay Shore trucking firm "failed to perform" according to its contract, which ran from 2009 to 2014, and used "junkyard parts that were 20 years old" rather than new equipment or parts that were certified as properly rebuilt.

George Dazzo, the firm's attorney did not return calls for comment Monday. Earlier, he and company owner Kirk Lombardi maintained they were cooperating with the Nassau investigation and were not aware of any wrongdoing.

In addition, Kennedy disclosed the county is being sued for nearly $30,000 by a third firm, Claro Trade Finance LLC, to which Nassau Suffolk Truck had sold its unpaid Suffolk bills for collection.

Kennedy said the audit found Nassau Suffolk Truck "fraudulently created" numerous bills, totaling $141,766, before submitting them to the county. The contract stated the firm should be paid $69 per hour for labor and was entitled to a 25 percent markup above certified cost on parts supplied by vendors.

In other cases, totaling $3,729, Kennedy said the "documents were altered by the vendor to increase the amount allegedly paid to parts suppliers." He said the county made those determinations after checking with the suppliers of Nassau Suffolk Truck.

The Suffolk comptroller said the audit is just the first step in an ongoing inquiry that will review how repairs were vetted by public works officials and the sheriff's department, which also used Nassau-Suffolk Truck. Kennedy said many sheriff repairs records were inadvertently destroyed, but he has asked if the documents can be reconstructed. Kennedy also raised concerns that work done on county trucks may have to be reinspected and redone.

Justin Meyers, spokesman for County Executive Steve Bellone, said, "We commend the comptroller on a great job and thorough report," and will review its findings.

Maragos said he is gratified other municipalities and public agencies have followed up on his original findings.

"We saw a pattern and there was no reason to believe that it stopped with us," he said. The Nassau district attorney is investigating and Maragos said the extent of the bogus billings is "substantially more than we originally found" in an initial sampling last year. He declined to be specific.

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