The employees alleged that they were collecting money from the contractors.
70 current and former New York City public housing employees were charged Tuesday with accepting kickbacks from contractors in exchange for awarding city contracts, federal prosecutors in New York said.
“We tried to send a message by removing 70 people,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams announced, announcing arrests in six states and all five metropolitan areas.
Superintendents and assistant superintendents at about 100 New York City public housing buildings took $2 million in kickbacks from contractors in exchange for doing small jobs under $10,000 that didn't require bidding.
“It's the classic pay to play,” Williams said. “This behavior became standard practice.”
Prosecutors said the alleged conduct began in 2013 and ran through 2023. Contractors who failed to pay kickbacks were fired.
All 70 NYCHA employees charged were suspended as of Tuesday. Federal agents with Homeland Security investigations arrested 65 defendants in six states and all five metropolitan areas.
The city's Department of Investigation said the alleged fraud inflated the costs of minor repairs, diverted funds and undermined the confidence of public housing residents.
“The bribes and extortions charged here allegedly took advantage of the no-bid process for goods and services under $10,000,” said DOI Commissioner Jocelyn Strawber.
The indictments against New York City Housing Authority employees represent the largest number of federal bribery charges brought in a single day in the Justice Department's history.
The investigation involved the city's Department of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan.
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