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Brooks' signature on document raising questions
Rochester, N.Y. - Monroe County Democrats are raising questions about a document at the center of several of the 25 criminal indictments unsealed last week in the investigation of local development corporations or LDC's.
The document bears the signature of Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks whose husband, Robert Wiesner, is one of four men charged.
Brooks has not been charged.
Yet, her signature on a 2008 document allowed a $99 million dollar contract to change hands without the approval of other lawmakers or even their knowledge.
"It's millions of dollars of taxpayer funds," said Carrie Andrews (D), and minority leader of the Legislature.
The document allowed the transfer of the contract to upgrade phone and computer systems from Siemens Building Technologies to Navitech Services Corporation.
At the time, Navitech had been in existence for just three weeks.
"We didn't even know it happened, but for going to the UTC (Upstate Telecommunications Corp) meeting that evening," said Andrews, indicating that the transfer was announced at the meeting of the LDC after the fact.
Democrats say that is one of the problems associated with LDC's.
They don't have to report to lawmakers, and are not required to get legislative approval. All that is required is the signature of the county executive.
"The 29 members of the legislature would have seen the problems associated with transferring a ($99 million dollar) contract to a start-up corporation which had no clients, no business, no expertise, no experience doing anything," said Paul Haney (D) legislator representing Rochester.
Reached at an event outside of the County Office Building, Maggie Brooks did not want to stop to answer our questions. She walked away at a fast pace and insisting twice she didn't understand.
"I haven't seen it so I can't really respond to it," she said. Adding later: "I'll read it and let you know."
Last Wednesday, Dennis Vacco, an attorney hired to do an internal investigation of the LDC procedures, absolved Brooks of any wrong-doing. He did not supply the evidence that lead him to this conclusion and indicated the investigation is continuing.
It is being paid for by taxpayers.
"Dennis Vacco is billing the county an average $10 thousand a week," said Haney. "It's very easy to contemplate (his firm is) going to walk out of this town with half a million dollars in fees."
Democrats agree Brooks' sign off on the transfer is legal. Yet the owner of Navitech, John Maggio, who also signed the document, now faces bid rigging and grand larceny charges. That raises questions over what Maggie Brooks knew, or should have known, before authorizing the transfer.
"We certainly would have looked into it and asked a significant number of questions," said Andrews. "Not knowing what the County Executive did, it's impossible to say what sort of due diligence she did."