Dozens of building supervisors who worked for the New York City Housing Authority were arrested Tuesday following a massive corruption investigation.
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York announced that 70 individuals, both current and former employees of the NYCHA, are facing charges for purportedly receiving cash payments from contractors in return for granting NYCHA contracts.
“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. This action is the largest single-day bribery takedown in the history of the Justice Department. NYCHA residents deserve better,” said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams in a press release. “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. The culture of corruption at NYCHA ends today.”
NYCHA is the biggest public housing authority in the U.S., housing 1 in 17 New Yorkers across 335 city developments, and it gets over $1.5 billion in federal funds each year. Williams said that the corruption was so widespread that it affected nearly one-third of these developments.
The attorney’s office explains that for contracts under $10,000, NYCHA staff could hire a contractor without seeking multiple bids; this faster "no-bid" process only required approval from designated staff at the development.
Going this route, the NYCHA employees allegedly took cash bribes from contractors to secure contracts. They demanded upfront payment or a cut of the contract value, typically 10% to 20%, which was between $500 and $2,000. The bribes identified in the investigation totaled over $2 million, given for no-bid contracts worth over $13 million.
As of Tuesday, 66 out of the 70 former and current employees had been detained. They have all been charged with bribery and extortion.
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