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Cost of LDC investigation
Rochester, N.Y. --- The cost to Monroe County taxpayers for the ongoing LDC investigation is averaging more than $50,000 each month.
That is for the outside law firm retained by Monroe County in July to help comply with the ongoing state investigations. Specifically the county retained former New York State Attorney General and former U.S. Attorney Dennis Vacco who is a partner at the Buffalo based firm Lippes, Mathia, Wexler, & Friedman.
Vacco was retained in July at a rate of $275-per-hour and the firms associates earn $225-per-hour.
Monroe County responded to a Freedom of Information request from 13WHAM News and provided redacted copies of bills submitted by the firm for the months of July, August, and September. The total amount billed to county taxpayers approaches $167,000 and Vacco himself billed the county $41,000. A top associate, Stacey Moar, billed taxpayers $71,000.
"When this investigation began we were very clear with the public that we would cooperate with the Attorney General's Office, that we would work with them and there's a cost to that," explained Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks on Friday. "If we had had to use our county attorneys to comply with the unbelievable requests coming from the state throughout this investigation it would be costing taxpayers a lot more. We made a decision to hire independent counsel so that we could meet all the requirements of the Attorney General's Office at a reduced cost to taxpayers.
Also included in the bills to the county are reimbursements for travel including gas mileage, tolls, and even parking while in Rochester or elsewhere. Those expenses totaled $3,093.62 according to the documents provided by the county.
"I don't know what that cost, that final cost will be," said Brooks knowing bills for October and November are pending.
The ongoing criminal case involves the handling of two taxpayer-funded contracts with Local Development Corporations (LDCs) that total more than $300 million. The states inquiry began with audits conducted by the New York State Comptrollers Office in 2011 and 2012. The results of those audits were then referred to the New York State Attorney Generals Office and the ongoing criminal investigations were launched.
"I mean this is a state investigation and we've been working with the state for more than three years so I have to believe there's an extraordinary cost associated with their part of this investigation, said Brooks. Don't know what that is but it has to be pretty enormous."
13WHAM News has submitted Freedom of Information requests to both the NYS Comptrollers Office and NYS Attorney Generals Office. Weve asked for a detailed account of costs associated with those audits and investigations.