(RepublicanPress.org) – The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) is the nation’s largest municipal agency, providing affordable dwelling places for low-income individuals and families, disabled people, and older adults. The NYCHA provides accommodations for one out of every 17 New Yorkers through roughly 335 developments scattered across the city.
The NYCHA receives more than $1.5 billion annually in federal taxpayer money through the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Some of those funds are used to repair existing structures and other construction projects. Typically, contractors must bid on projects. However, if the total anticipated cost is $10,000 or less, certain NYCHA officials can bypass that requirement and hire outside contractors without soliciting bids.
Officials established the no-bid process to streamline operations. However, a recent series of arrests revealed widespread abuse by dozens of NYCHD workers.
Scores of New York Housing Authority Workers Arrest in Federal Bribery Case
On February 6, the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) issued a press release announcing the unsealing of extortion and bribery charges against 70 current and former NYCHA workers. The statement advised that this was the largest number of bribery charges filed by federal prosecutors in a single day in the Justice Department’s nearly 154-year history.
The press release confirmed that law enforcement officials arrested all but four of the defendants in a nationwide sweep that included suspects in North Carolina, Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York. The individuals arrested in New York made their first appearance before seven magistrate judges assigned to the Daniel Patrick Moynihan United States Courthouse, located in Lower Manhattan.
The defendants were NYCHA workers at the time the alleged crimes occurred. They reportedly demanded bribes in exchange for awarding contracts falling below the $10,000 threshold requiring bids. The city workers either asked for the money in advance or demanded payment once the projects were completed, and contractors needed them to sign off on the finished jobs so they could get paid.
Charging documents claim the defendants typically demanded between 10% and 20% of the contract value (roughly $500 to $2,000). However, prosecutors say some defendants “demanded” even higher “corrupt payments.” In all, the defendants sought to collect more than $2 million in bribes for awarding no-bid contracts exceeding $13 million in payouts.
Defendants Face Serious Charges and Prison Time
SDNY prosecutors charged 69 of the defendants with solicitation and receipt of a bribe and extortion under the color of official right. They carry a term of incarceration of up to 10 years and 20 years, respectively.
Two defendants received two additional charges: conspiracy to solicit and receive a bribe and conspiracy to commit extortion under the color of official right. They carry five-year and 20-year prison terms.
Prosecutors charged one defendant, Angela Williams, with those two charges and making false statements and destruction of evidence. They carry maximum prison terms of five years and 20 years.
CBS News published a copy of Williams’ criminal complaint provided as a download on the Justice Department’s website.
Copyright 2024, RepublicanPress.org