Friday, October 11, 2013

Could LDC probe be coming to a head?

Posted By on Fri, Oct 11, 2013 at 9:50 AM

Yesterday's news that Nelson Rivera, Monroe County's chief information officer, had resigned set off a new wave of speculation about the grand jury investigation taking place into county-linked local development corporations.

The history is complicated, and county spokesperson Justin Feasel wouldn't say why Rivera resigned. He'd only confirm that Rivera stepped down on October 9.

Two county LDCs are thought to be at the center of a grand jury investigation by the state Attorney General's Office and the FBI. And those investigations are thought to be based on critical audits from the state Comptroller's Office.

One of those audits
centered around a county contract with Upstate Telecommunications Corporation — a contract that Rivera was in charge of. The county contracted with UTC to provide information systems, including phones and computers. But in the audit, the Comptroller's Office alleged that the county used a flawed process, meant to steer the contract to UTC, which would ultimately contract with Siemens Building Technologies. And that company, says the audit, has significant connections to current and former county officials.

And when Siemens stopped providing services to governments, it assigned its contract to Navitech, whose chief operating officer is Stephen Gleason, the county's former chief financial officer.

The other LDC in question is Monroe Security and Safety Systems, which the county has contracted with to upgrade and operate its emergency communications infrastructure. That LDC also subcontracts with Navitech, and auditors allege that the company's bid received preferential treatment. From a press release announcing the audit's results:
Auditors found the process followed by the county to obtain the services was not competitive and favored Navitech. The seven proposals received in response to the county's request for proposals (RFP) were not equally evaluated. Auditors also learned that Navitech had been provided an early draft of the RFP and provided with additional details unknown to the other vendors.

Feasel said that he and other county officials don't know when the grand jury might report its findings. Media reports have indicated that indictments may be coming this month.

Some media have also reported that the Monroe County Water Authority, which has dealings with Monroe Security and Safety Systems, has hired a law firm with experience in criminal proceedings.

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