Friday, March 02, 2007

Former ESDC Chair Gargano Being Audited?

The new Real Deal has a story that will be a must read for Atlantic Yards followers. It's about former Empire State Development Corporation Chair Charles Gargano. Mr. Gargano was most recently the subject of a long Village Voice investigative story about the Red Hook Piers. Now, there's an audit of "allegedly misdirected funds at the agency." Real Deal writes:
Depending on the findings of the audit by the new New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, which were slated for release around the end of February, the unelected former economic czar could become part of a criminal investigation. Allegations that the Economic State Development Corp. paid the rent of the headquarters of agency chief Gargano's nephew, Frank Gargano -- who unsuccessfully ran for local office in Suffolk County on Long Island -- further cloud the legacy of the Albany insider's 12 years in power...

Last month, The Real Deal sat down with Gargano in one of the first interviews since he left office. Gargano defended himself against the claims of impropriety and reflected on his experience as the state's development czar. He found fault with developers and government officials for projects that were thwarted at the end of his tenure.

The investigation of the ESDC follows outgoing Gov. George Pataki's defiance of Governor-elect Eliot Spitzer's request last year that the old administration not make any long-lasting public authority appointments prior to leaving office. Pataki extended Charles Gargano's stint as vice chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey by six years. The agency controls most of the bridges, tunnels and roads that crisscross the region, and also major portions of the World Trade Center redevelopment.

At the ESDC, Spitzer wasted no time replacing 72-year-old Gargano with Patrick Foye, a mergers and acquisitions lawyer who headed a three-year turnaround effort as chief executive of the United Way of Long Island.

If the audit goes against the agency or Gargano, it could trigger an aggressive look by new Attorney General Andrew Cuomo into past ESDC workings.
Mr. Gargano was criticized by Atlantic Yards opponents for shunning public input and for fast tracking the project so it would be approved before Gov. Pataki left office.


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