Largest single-day bribery bust in Justice Department history: 70 NYCHA employees charged

Employees accused of demanding more than $2 million in bribes and awarding contracts over $13 million

Federal and city investigators arrested dozens of New York City Housing Authority workers and contractors on Tuesday. —NBC New York

In what marks the largest single-day bribery crackdown in Justice Department history, more than 70 current and former New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) employees face charges for allegedly accepting cash payments in exchange for “no bidding.” contracts.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York revealed that these employees are accused of demanding more than $2 million in bribes and awarding contracts exceeding $13 million.

The arrests were made in several states, including New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and North Carolina. The charges against the defendants range from soliciting and receiving a bribe to extortion and conspiracy.

The accused individuals are alleged to have received cash from contractors involved in NYCHA contracts, demonstrating a flagrant violation of the bidding process.

NYCHA Executive Director Lisa Bova-Hiatt expressed the agency's “zero tolerance for illicit and illegal activities” and condemned the defendants' actions. She emphasized the betrayal of trust and promised to work with authorities to eliminate misconduct within the Authority.

The alleged bribery scheme focused primarily on contracts related to repairs and construction work, occasions in which NYCHA recruited outside contractors.

The accused employees reportedly demanded and received cash payments in advance or after completion of work. The amounts ranged from $500 to $2,000, depending on the size of the contract.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams underscored the commitment to rooting out corruption within NYCHA, stating, “The culture of corruption at NYCHA ends today.” The Department of Investigation recommended reforms to NYCHA's no-bid contracting process, an initiative accepted by the authority.

Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent Ivan Arvelo expressed concern that Housing Authority residents may have been deprived of better services and programs because of these “lucrative under-the-table deals.”

NYCHA, responsible for housing in 335 developments and receiving substantial federal funding annually, has been dealing with corruption allegations for years, and this recent episode further amplifies the challenges facing the agency.

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