Queens Library Head Being Probed by Feds Over Construction Spending

By Jeanmarie Evelly on March 5, 2014 6:22pm 

 The Queens Central Library on Merrick Boulevard in Jamaica.
The Queens Central Library on Merrick Boulevard in Jamaica.
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DNAinfo/Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska

QUEENS — Thomas Galante, the president and CEO of the Queens Library who has come under fire in recent months over questions about his salary and renovation spending, is being probed by federal and city investigators, a source said.

The Daily News first reported Wednesday morning that the FBI and the city's Department of Investigation delivered subpoenas Friday to Galante and to Frank Marino, a construction consultant for the library.

Marino heads the Long Island-based Advanced Construction Group, which has worked on renovation projects for the Queens Library, including a major overhaul of the Central Library branch in Jamaica, according to the company's website.

The Daily News reported last week that Marino and Galante have ties to the same Long Island school district, where both have worked part time, though Marino and a library spokeswoman told the paper that Marino's firm was chosen to work with the library through a competitive bidding process.

Marino declined to comment when reached by phone on Wednesday. The FBI and the DOI also declined to comment.

In a statement, the Queens Library credited its capital building program with creating "attractive, functional learning environments for library users across the borough."

"Every aspect of our capital budget has been appropriately expended," the statement said. "The library will comply with lawful requests for information by oversight or enforcement entities. We are confident that concerns will be addressed satisfactorily and any questions will be put to rest."

News of the investigation into Galante comes a day after Queens Borough President Melinda Katz penned a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio expressing her concerns over the library's capital construction process.

She urged the city to temporarily ban Queens Library from using so-called "pass through" contracts that allow the library to conduct its own bidding process, retain its own vendors and seek reimbursement from the city, according to the letter.

"The City's public bidding process, with its oversight, should assume responsibility for all Queens Library capital construction projects through the Department of Design and Construction," she said.

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