70 NYC housing workers charged in largest bribery takedown in DOJ history

The employees are accused of accepting kickbacks from contractors.

February 6, 2024, 12:00 PM

As many as 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 were trying to send a message with a 70-person takedown," U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in announcing the arrests in six states and all five boroughs.

Superintendents and assistant superintendents at about 100 New York City public housing buildings collectively took $2 million in kickbacks from contractors in exchange for being awarded small jobs under $10,000 that did not require a bid.

"This was classic pay to play," Williams said. "This conduct became a regular practice."

The charges against the New York City Housing Authority employees present the largest number of federal bribery charges brought on a single day in the history of the Department of Justice.

Dozens of public housing employees in New York City were arrested as part of a corruption investigation.
Obtained by ABC News

The alleged conduct started in 2013 and ran until 2023, prosecutors said. Contractors who failed to pay a kickback were cut out of work.

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 boroughs.

The city's Department of Investigation said the alleged fraud drove up the costs of small repairs, diverted funds and eroded the trust of public housing residents.

"The bribery and extortion that is charged here allegedly exploited the no-bid process for goods and services under $10,000," DOI Commissioner Jocelyn Strauber said.

The investigation involves the city's Department of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations and the U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan.