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Judge questions insurer’s refusal to pay in Adam Skelos case

Adam Skelos Dec. 4, 2015

Adam Skelos Dec. 4, 2015 Photo Credit: John Roca

A Manhattan federal judge on Thursday quizzed a lawyer for AbTech Holdings Inc. about whether “public policy” supported an insurance company’s refusal to cover costs related to federal inquiries into its hiring of Adam Skelos to help get a Nassau County contract.

AbTech has sued National Union Fire Insurance Co. for $1.7 million in defense costs incurred in a SEC inquiry and a federal probe that led to the conviction of Adam and his father, former Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos, on bribery charges last year.

U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe, presiding at an initial hearing in the case, asked if it wasn’t contrary to the “public policy” of both New York and AbTech’s home state of Arizona to allow “people to insure themselves against the consequences of trying to bribe public officials.”

That’s one of the defenses asserted by the insurance company, but a lawyer for AbTech said it didn’t apply as long as AbTech, whose executives testified at the trial of the Skeloses, was never convicted of anything in the case.

Gardephe asked for briefs from both sides to determine if he could decide the case based solely on the language of the insurance policy and legal principles. The lawsuit was filed in July.

AbTech, according to testimony at the 2015 Skelos trial, paid Adam $10,000 a month to assure Dean Skelos’ support on a $12 million storm water antipollution contract with Nassau and on other issues in Albany. The conviction of the Skeloses is being appealed.


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