Went to firm headed by indicted former official
In his State of the Town address on June 12, Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino touted the town’s plan to create an Office of Procurement Inspector General (IG) in the near future.
“Our goal is simple—we must enhance oversight with someone who is independent and committed to ensuring every contract and purchase protects taxpayers,” Saladino declared. “This position will help bring additional checks and balances to government, and most importantly, protect us from those who seek to prey on, cheat and steal the taxpayer dime.”
By the end of the ensuing regular town board meeting, Saladino might have wished that an IG who discharged those duties was already in office.
The board voted 4-3 to pass Resolution 287, giving a $175,000 contract to a firm called RouteSmart Technologies, a subcontractor to LiRO Engineering of Syosset. The contract was to develop the most efficient pick-up routes for the sanitation department.
It turned out that RouteSmart was a subsidiary of the Bowne AE&T Group, affiliated with Sidney Bowne & Sons, which had garnered many engineering contracts with the town over the decades. Councilwoman Rebecca Alesia turned up the startling news that Frank Antetomaso was associated with RouteSmart.
Last summer, Antetomaso, of Massapequa, a former Oyster Bay commissioner of public works, was charged by Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas with one count each of official misconduct, theft of services and fifth degree conspiracy, all misdemeanors. He pleaded not guilty and is awaiting his day in court.
The day of the indictments, Saladino held a press conference vowing that the town would no longer do business with Bowne while Antetomaso remained a principal there.
Earlier this year, Bowne’s assets were bought up by the LiRO Group, an engineering and construction management firm in Syosset. Nancy Silver, a vice president at LiRO, told Anton Media Group that Antetomaso had no affiliation with her company.
When Town Clerk James Altadonna Jr. called for a motion to introduce Resolution 287 (it had been tabled in April), Alesia asked that a vote to adopt it be delayed while she did a bit more research. Altadonna told her the board would hear comments and then vote on the other resolutions first, and then do a separate vote on 287.
Before the vote on the resolution in question, Alesia passed a slip of paper to Saladino, and the two held a brief discussion. After Saladino voted “aye,” Councilman Anthony Macagnone then asked Alesia if she had an objection.
“I do have an objection,” she replied. “My understanding is that the subsidiary is owned by the company that is using it, and I have reason to understand that there may be a principal of this company that is somebody we have agreed not to do business with.”
Alesia did not name Antetomaso.
There was a pause, and Altadonna asked, “Should I continue to call the roll?”
Saladino responded, “Obviously, we’ll be looking into this. [We’re] moving forward on the process, but of course we will be looking at everything very carefully as to not be going back on something that we’ve committed to. Of course, we will be getting details on that.”
The voting continued, and Saladino was joined by Joe Muscarella, Lou Imbroto and Thomas Hand in approving the contract.
Macagnone and Michelle Johnson both voted no, citing Alesia’s information.
In an email, town spokesman Brian Nevin stated, “Until Rebecca Alesia brought up the issue (during the vote), the board was unaware that Frank Antetomaso had anything to do with RouteSmart…a subcontractor for LiRO.”
“LiRo Engineers represented in writing to the town that indicted individuals no longer played any role in town business or their company,” Saladino said in a statement issued later the day of the meeting. “Upon listening to today’s allegations, I will not allow taxpayers to fund any work with companies or individuals under indictment. I will not execute any agreement until this matter is resolved.”
Asked by Anton Media Group about her actions that day, Alesia said, via email, “When I arrived at the board meeting on Tuesday, Resolution 287 was at my seat. I saw that it had previously been tabled, but as I didn’t have an immediate recollection of it, I was prompted to look at it a little further. As I was unfamiliar with the company RouteSmart and what services it provides, I did a quick Google search and the website that popped up immediately had ‘Bowne’ in the upper left hand corner. I conferred briefly with the commissioner of public works [Rich Lenz] and the deputy supervisor [Gregory Carman Jr.] and was informed of Mr. Antetomaso’s continued interest in this particular subsidiary company.”
The New York State Department of State’s Corporation division lists Antetomaso as the chief executive officer of RouteSmart, with a corporate address of 259 East Jericho Tpke., Mineola.
“I have sympathy for my colleagues on the board,” Alesia added. “Somebody should not be put in a position where they have to vote on the spot, missing crucial pieces of relevant information. I firmly believe if this information had been disclosed in advance that they would have voted along with me.”
According to Nevin, the town will ask more questions of any prospective contractor seeking to do business with Oyster Bay, among which:
• Has the company and/or any of its shareholder officers, and/or employees been convicted of a crime within the last 10 years? If yes, explain.
• Has the company and/or any of its shareholder officers, and/or employees been under investigation by any law enforcement agency? If yes, explain.