Seventy current and former employees of the New York City Housing Authority have been charged in connection with a decade-long bribery scheme.
The men and women, all of whom worked for the largest public housing authority in the country during the time period in question, allegedly “demanded and received cash in exchange for NYCHA contracts.”
In a press release issued, the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York said that defendants acquired bribes “by either requiring contractors to pay up front in order to be awarded the contracts or requiring payment after the contractor finished the work and needed a NYCHA employee to sign off on the completed job so the contractor could receive payment from NYCHA.”
While most defendants demanded between 10 and 20 percent of the contract value, $500 to $2,000, others demanded higher amounts totaling over $2 million in “corrupt payments.”
The DA's office explained that “when repairs or construction work require the use of outside contractors, services must typically be purchased via a bidding process,” however when the value of a contract fell under a certain threshold, $10,000 in this case, “designated staff at NYCHA developments could hire a contractor of their choosing without soliciting multiple bids.”
“This ‘no-bid' process,” they added, “required approval of only the designated staff at the development where the work was to be performed,” thus providing the opportunity for individuals to accept bribes.
In a statement, US Attorney Damian Williams declared that “the culture of corruption at NYCHA ends today,” noting that this marked “the largest single-day bribery takedown in the history of the Justice Department.”
“Instead of acting in the interests of NYCHA residents, the City of New York, or taxpayers,” he lamented, “the 70 defendants charged today allegedly used their jobs at NYCHA to line their own pockets. … NYCHA residents deserve better. My Office is firmly committed to cleaning up the corruption that has plagued NYCHA for far too long so that its residents can be served with integrity and have the high-quality affordable homes that they deserve.”