February 23, 2024

70 Public Housing Employees Charged With Bribery In New York

The charges amount to the largest number of federal bribery charges ever filed on a single day, according to the Department of Justice.

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Seventy current and former employees of New York City’s public housing authority have been hit with federal bribery and extortion charges for allegedly accepting bribes in exchange for lucrative contracts.

The charges amount to the largest number of federal bribery charges ever filed on a single day, according to the Department of Justice.

According to an announcement from federal prosecutors, the accused employees of the New York City Housing Authority demanded and received large cash payments from would-be contractors in order to be awarded contracts. They demanded payments either before the contract was awarded or after the work was completed, at which time it needed to be signed off on by an NYCHA employee.

The defendants typically demanded between 10 percent and 20 percent of the contract’s value, between $500 and $2,000 depending on the job, but some defendants allegedly demanded even more.

In total, over $2 million in corrupt payments were made in exchange for over $13 million in contracts, according to prosecutors.

“Instead of acting in the interests of NYCHA residents, the City of New York, or taxpayers, the 70 defendants charged today allegedly used their jobs at NYCHA to line their own pockets,” U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams said in a statement. “NYCHA residents deserve better.”

NYCHA is the largest public housing system in the United States, providing housing to one in every 17 New Yorkers in 335 developments across the city. It often hires private contractors to conduct repairs, contracts for which are usually bidded on. But when the cost of a repair is under $10,000, NYCHA staff are able to give out contracts to a contractor of their choosing without soliciting bids, opening the system up to kickbacks and corruption.

Nearly 100 of NYCHA’s buildings were affected by the kickback scheme, according to prosecutors.

NYCHA receives over $1 billion in federal funding and is run by a board of seven people appointed by the mayor of New York.

Each of the defendants faces a maximum of 10 years in prison for solicitation and receipt of a bribe and 20 years in prison for extortion.

NYCHA Chief Executive Officer Lisa Bova-Hiatt said in a statement that the defendants “betrayed the public trust.”

“The individuals allegedly involved in these acts put their greed first and violated the trust of our residents, their fellow NYCHA colleagues and all New Yorkers,” she said. “These actions are counter to everything we stand for as public servants and will not be tolerated in any form.”

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