A Staggering Number of NYC Housing Authority Employees Charged with Bribery, Extortion
In a massive takedown called the “largest single-day bribery takedown in the history of the Justice Department,” the DOJ recently unsealed “bribery and extortion charges against 70 current and former employees of the New York City Housing Authority (‘NYCHA’).”
According to the DOJ, the NYCHA provides housing “to 1 in 17 New Yorkers” and receives “over $1.5 billion in federal funding.” When outside contractors are needed to perform repairs or construction work, the contractors are either (i) purchased via a bidding process, if the contract value is over $10,000; or (ii) hired under a “no-bid process,” if the contract value is at or below $10,000. Under the “no-bid process” for the lower-value contracts, selecting the outside contractor just required approval by “the designated staff at the development where the work was to be performed,” and did not require “soliciting multiple bids,” according to the DOJ.
The DOJ’s allegations claim that defendants, current and former NYCHA employees, “demanded and received cash”—typically “10% to 20% of the contract value”—“in exchange for NYCHA contracts 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.” The alleged bribes associated with these lower-value contracts add up: the DOJ alleged that NYCHA employees demanded “over $2 million in corrupt payments from contractors” for no-bid contracts.
A recent CNN article includes a quote from NYCHA’s CEO, Lisa Bova-Hiatt, addressing the charges: “the defendants ‘put their greed first and violated the trust of our residents, their fellow NYCHA colleagues and all New Yorkers.”
This massive action not only underscores the government’s commitment to rooting out bribery and other misconduct. It also reiterates the government’s desire to hear from whistleblowers. In its press release announcing these charges, the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York added an invitation for whistleblowers to come forward:
If you believe you have information related to bribery, extortion, or any other illegal conduct by NYCHA employees, please contact OIGNYCHA@doi.nyc.gov or (212) 306-3356. If you were involved in such conduct, please consider self-disclosing through the SDNY Whistleblower Pilot Program at USANYS.WBP@usdoj.gov.
Whistleblowers play a crucial role in rooting out corruption and misconduct. Certain statutes and government programs, such as the False Claims Act, the SEC Whistleblower Program, and the CFTC Whistleblower Program, offer rewards to certain whistleblowers to incentivize them to come forward and bring the misconduct to light.
If you would like more information on what it means to be a whistleblower or think you may have information relating to fraud or misconduct involving a government program, please feel free to contact us so we can connect you with a member of the Constantine Cannon whistleblower lawyer team for a free and confidential consultation.
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