County Official Resigns Amid LDC Probe

County Official Resigns Amid LDC Probe

Many people - in and outside of the county administration - are consulting lawyers.
A top Monroe County official has resigned amid an investigation into the county's use of local development corporations.

A county spokesman would not say why Chief Information Officer Nelson Rivera left his position. Nelson has hired an attorney. He was deeply involved in the county's contract with Upstate Telecommuncations Corp., one of two LDCs blasted in state comptroller audits. The other LDC is Monroe Security and Safety Systems.

The state Attorney General has been investigating the LDCs. A grand jury has been meeting since July. The audits found lax oversight, possible bid rigging and possible misuse of tax dollars. The county has maintained the nonprofit LDCs have given it more flexibility in borrowing and has saved taxpayers money.

"We don't really know what's going on because proceedings of the grand jury are secret," said Democratic County Legislator Paul Haney. "Many of us are waiting with bated breath for the day when they report."

No one knows who will be indicted, how many people will be indicted and when the indictments will be handed up. In the meantime, multiple sources say anyone who has done any work with the LDCs, both inside and outside the county administration, has talked to lawyers about representation if they get charged with wrongdoing.

"When people are hiring lawyers who are experienced in dealing with governmental investigators, it just leads one to believe that although all we see is smoke now that there's probably really some fire there," said Haney.

But some sources said people who don't believe they've done anything wrong are talking to lawyers because they're worried about an overzealous prosecution with an extended reach. They point to the failed prosecutions of former Deputy County Executive James Smith and Republican Party operative Andy Moore. Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks has called the probe political.

Thursday morning, the Monroe County Water Authority board voted to hire a law firm with criminal expertise to advise it during the investigation. The authority had work done through the security LDC. At the time, Robert Wiesner was head of authority security. Wiesner is a former police captain and husband of Brooks. He has not been implicated in any wrongdoing, but sources say he is among those who have considered legal representation.

Water Authority Executive Director Nicholas Noce would not say if Wiesner has been targeted by investigators.

"I'm always concerned when there's an investigation of this sort but I believe that the water authority is in good shape," Noce said.

"I'm concerned about the fact Monroe County taxpayers are now paying the legal expenses, now ratepayers in Monroe County will be paying the legal expenses for this criminal investigation," said Carrie Andrews, Democratic Minority Leader on the county legislature.

Wiesner was not named in the comptroller's LDC audits. But other people were, including Dan Lynch, who reaped tens of thousands of dollars in consulting fees. The audits also mentioned former Deputy County Executive Richard Mackey and former county Chief Financial Officer Steve Gleason who did LDC work.

The boards of the LDCs in question met on Thursday morning. Hank Stuart chairs both. Sources say he has testified before the grand jury, but he would not confirm that when asked.

"Our board and our mangement consultants here have been complying to the full extent of the law with all of these investigations. We hope to have a satisfactory outcome soon," said Stuart.

When asked if he believes there has been any wrongdoing with either LDC, Staurt said, "In terms of what the board has been doing over the last several years, I don't see any actions that the board has done that has been incorrect or improper."

When asked if he's aware of improper actions by others, Stuart said, "I don't know anything about that."
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