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Feds bust dozens NYCHA supers on bribery charges

Elvert Barnes | Flickr

Bribery charges have been brought against 70 superintendents, both former and current, of New York City Housing Authority for corruption and allegedly receiving millions of dollars in exchange for work contracts.

Of those 70 accused, 66 superintendents were apprehended the morning of Feb. 13 in various locations, spanning from New York City to North Carolina. They were arraigned in federal court and later released on a $50,000 bond with travel constraints.

According to a CBS News report, the bribes amounted to more than $2 million and were said to have occurred at nearly one-third of all NYCHA buildings across the five boroughs. 

In return for the bribes, supers would award these contractors with over $13 million worth of work on buildings managed by NYCHA.

Throughout the 476 pages of criminal complaints, primarily lower-level employees are targeted.

Systemic issues within NYCHA’s management go back to September 2021 when the Department of Investigation informed NYCHA Chair Greg Russ that their investigation findings had been forwarded to law enforcement for potential criminal prosecution. 

Despite this notification, both Russ and NYCHA General Manager Vito Mustaciuolo dismissed the suggestion.

In light of the recent arrests, NYCHA responded to inquiries from The City regarding their failure to implement suggested reforms in 2021.

A spokesperson for NYCHA told The City, “NYCHA did not implement the recommendation to remove micro-purchases as a property management tool in an attempt to continue prioritizing the daily operational needs of residents and the building portfolio.” These micro-purchases are used as an avenue by public housing authorities to secure the fastest possible services for their residents, such as in emergencies. 

NYCHA is the largest public housing authority in the United States. Repairs or construction work requiring outside contractors must undergo a bidding process. 

However, for contracts valued under $10,000, NYCHA staff at developments could hire contractors without multiple bids, known as a “no-bid” process, which was faster and required only approval from designated staff at the development.

According to The City, the DOI proposed to implement “fixed price lists,” which would outline typical repair costs to prevent overbilling for minor jobs that meet the $10,000 threshold. NYCHA declined to adopt the suggestion back in 2021.

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  • R

    Ray Flushing NYCFeb 26, 2024 at 9:44 am

    So there were arrests for bribes involving contracts under $10,000. How about bigger contracts? There are contracts that run into the MILLIONS.

    Queensbridge Boiler Contractor HAKS Engineers was linked to Bribery. NYCHA vice president who oversaw construction contracts faced city probe. He is linked to HAKS. HAKS changed name to Atane and in 2023 got OVER THIRTY MILLION DOLLARS in contracts from NYCHA.

    This is not the first name change for NYCHA contractors. In the 1980s John Gotti was “salesman” for Arc Plumbing who installed one thousand bathrooms at Queensbridge Houses which all had to be replaced. Arc was debarred from receiving Federal funding. Arc officers then formed Hi-Tech Mechanical which then got NYCHA contracts.

    NYCHA employees ran a protection racket that was approved by HUD whereby lobby doors would be left unlock-able if tenants did not “volunteer” for tenant patrol for their building. NYCHA employees were paid to supervise the “volunteers”. As of February 2024 there is no lobby door lock at 41-04 Vernon Boulevard at Queensbridge Houses.

    When NYCHA employees get bribes from vendors does NYCHA enforce warranty provisions? NYCHA paid on their own to repair faulty roofs that were under warranty. THOUSANDS of Maytag refrigerators had to be post installation serviced each at least one time at Queensbridge Houses due to inferior part. They were all replaced in about two years. Were bribes paid to two refrigerator vendors?

    There is subletting of apartments in NYCHA buildings. Could NYCHA employees be involved?

    Who repairs Queensbridge intercoms? NYCHA or contractor? Are NYCHA employees covering up for contractor? If NYCHA insists on warranty repairs will vendors ask for their bribes back?
    We found that 66% of Queensbridge Houses intercoms didn’t work.

    For “NYCHA Retaliates Against Tenants and Employees”, and “Bribery Tutorial”
    and more (“In a later interview by Ms. Polly Kreisman of WWOR TV, Channel 9, Mr. Panese said that If you’re looking for crooks, look to the higher ups in NYCHA.”) see center column at REDACTED

    Preet Bharara in one of his podcasts after he was removed from US DOJ SDNY by Trump said NYCHA was a very corrupt NYC agency.