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Bribery charges against 70 New York public housing employees

Robert Besser
10 Feb 2024

NEW YORK: This week, federal prosecutors charged 70 current and former employees of the New York City Housing Authority with taking bribes in exchange for awarding no-bid contracts.

The authority is the largest public housing agency in North America.

The case was "the largest single-day bribery takedown" in the history of the U.S. Department of Justice, said Damian Williams, U.S. attorney in Manhattan.

Williams' office said that current and former NYCHA employees, 66 of whom were arrested on February 6 morning, were each charged with extortion as government workers, soliciting and receiving bribes, while some also face additional conspiracy charges.

The charges carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

In a statement, NYCHA Chief Executive Officer Lisa Bova-Hiatt said that her agency, which provides affordable homes for New Yorkers, has "zero tolerance for wrongful and illegal activity."

"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. We will not allow bad actors to disrupt or undermine our achievements," she said.

The criminal complaint stated that before authorizing a contract or signing off on a completed job, the defendants, including supervisors, demanded cash from contractors, even for small repair jobs.

They usually demanded between 10 percent and 20 percent of the contract value, pocketing between US$500 and $2,000 in a usual deal, accepting a total of over $2 million in bribes in exchange for awarding no-bid contracts worth $13 million across about 100 different NYCHA buildings, the complaint said.

The arrested defendants were due to appear in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

Williams' office said the authority receives $1.5 billion in annual funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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