Seventy current and former New York City Housing Authority employees have been charged with bribery and extortion as part of a large-scale corruption investigation, Manhattan federal prosecutors said Tuesday.
The employees allegedly demanded more than $2 million in bribes from contractors in exchange for awarding more than $13 million in contracts for work at dozens of NYCHA buildings, Damian Williams, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said at a news conference.
What You Need To Know
- Seventy current and former NYCHA employees have been charged with demanding bribes in exchange for awarding contracts for construction and repair work at their buildings
- Accepting and extorting bribes became a "regular practice" for the employees, happening at nearly 100 NYCHA buildings across all five boroughs, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said Tuesday
- The charges represent the largest single-day bribery takedown in Department of Justice history, prosecutors said
- NYCHA Chief Executive Officer Lisa Bova-Hiatt will appear on “Mornings On 1” at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday to discuss the charges
The charges represent the largest single-day bribery takedown in Department of Justice history, Williams said.
“If the contractors didn’t pay up, then the defendants wouldn’t give them the work,” he said. “That’s classic pay-to-play. And this culture of corruption at NYCHA ends today."
Williams said the employees, many of whom were superintendents or assistant superintendents, had the authority to choose contractors to carry out repair and construction work at their buildings.
Prosecutors say they demanded cash bribes in exchange for awarding contracts or signing off on payments to contractors for work including plumbing and window repairs.
None of the contracts had go through a competitive bidding process, as they were valued at under $10,000, Williams said.
“Many contractors paid these bribes, because if they didn’t, the defendants would give these jobs to someone else,” he said.
Accepting and extorting bribes became a “regular practice," for the employees, happening at nearly 100 NYCHA buildings across all five boroughs, or nearly one-third of the city’s NYCHA buildings, he added.
Prosecutors say the employees usually demanded between $500 and $2,000 in bribes, depending on contract size, but some bribes were even higher.
Sixty-six of the 70 defendants were arrested in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and North Carolina Tuesday morning, according to prosecutors.
In a statement released Tuesday, NYCHA Chief Executive Officer Lisa Bova-Hiatt said the defendants “put their greed first and violated the trust of our residents, their fellow NYCHA colleagues and all new Yorkers.”
“NYCHA has ZERO tolerance for wrongful and illegal activity,” Bova-Hiatt said. “These actions are counter to everything we stand for as public servants and will not be tolerated in any form.”
“In the past five years, NYCHA has achieved many significant milestones, while remaining vigilant to ensure integrity in every area of our work,” she added. “We have already made transformative changes to our business practices and will continue to do so. We will not allow bad actors to disrupt or undermine our achievements.”