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LDC lawyer billed county $250K
Rochester, N.Y. - 13WHAM News has obtained invoices that show county taxpayers have been billed more than $250,000 for legal services provided as a result of the ongoing LDC investigation.
Monroe County retained legal counsel in July 2013 in response to the ongoing criminal investigation conducted by the New York State Attorney Generals Office. A grand jury was impaneled and in November a 25-count criminal indictment against four individuals was unsealed.
Dennis Vacco, a former New York State Attorney General and former U.S. Attorney, was retained by Monroe County at a cost of $275 per hour. Associates and assistants are paid rates ranging from $165 to $225 per hour according to the contract. Since then the county has maintained that Vaccos team is primarily helping the county comply with the ongoing criminal investigation.
To date invoices from Vaccos legal team to Monroe County, obtained by 13WHAM News through Freedom of Information requests, show the county was billed more than $250,000 for four months of work. Invoices from July, August, September, and October were obtained in this FOI process.
The total amount billed to date comes to $250,389.82. But the most recent invoice from Vaccos law firm also includes something described as a Professional Courtesy Discount that amounts to a reduction of $21,849.80 from the grand total.
Presumably many tens of thousands of additional dollars will be spent on this legal contract in the coming months. The invoices obtained by 13WHAM News do not include any bills for the month of November when the indictment was actually unsealed. Vacco also took part in a press conference with Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks on the day of the criminal arraignments. At that press conference he was publicly directed to become involved in the severing of certain contracts related to the LDCs and a company called Navitech Services Corp. whose founder and CEO was among those indicted.
The LDC investigation is focused on Monroe Countys use of two Local Development Corporations formed as a way to perform services at less expense. One of those LDCs is Upstate Telecommunications Corporation (UTC) and the other is Monroe Security and Safety Systems (M3S).
The New York State Comptrollers Office conducted thorough audits of both LDCs and found irregularities and suspicious accounting and implementation in the contract. Those audits and findings were turned over to the Attorney Generals Office and resulted in criminal charges filed in November.
In November 13WHAM News submitted detailed Freedom of Information requests to both the New York State Comptrollers Office and the New York State Attorney Generals Office. In both requests 13WHAM News asked the offices to assemble and provide documents that detail how much each agency spent on their respective investigations and audits.
As of January 2, 2014 the New York State Attorney Generals Office had provided a response requesting more time to assemble the necessary documents. The response noted the detailed nature of the review required to respond as one reason for the delay.
We estimate that this Office will complete the search by February 25, 2014, was also explained in the response.
The New York State Comptrollers Office immediately acknowledged receipt of 13WHAM News request and promptly responded with a notice that stated:
We are performing a diligent search for the records you request. We will notify you of the state of your request on or before December 23, 2013.
Having not heard back yet, a spokesman told 13WHAM News on January 2, 2014 that the Comptrollers Office was looking to determine the status of our request.