By Gus Saltonstall
An Upper West Side New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) complex and its superintendent were tied to a massive bribery bust on Tuesday that saw 70 current and former NYCHA employees charged with allegedly taking cash payments in exchange for awarding contracts.
The NYCHA bust represents the largest number of federal bribery charges dished out on a single day in Department of Justice history.
Overall, the alleged illegal activity took place between 2013 and 2023 and involved dozens of NYCHA employees receiving $2 million in kickbacks in exchange for more than $13 million in contracted work at almost 100 NYCHA buildings across the city.
“Instead of acting in the interests of NYCHA residents, the City of New York, or taxpayers, the 70 defendants charged today allegedly used their jobs at NYCHA to line their own pockets,” Damian Williams, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a news release. “NYCHA residents deserve better.”
One of the complexes involved was the Stephen Wise Towers on the Upper West Side at West 90th Street, between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues.
The alleged crimes at the complex involve Willie Williams, who was the assistant superintendent at the Wise Towers from around September 2018 through October 2019, according to court documents. A cooperating witness told the DOJ that they started performing work at the Wise Towers in 2015, but things changed in 2019 when they were awarded three contracts from January to March of 2019, court documents show.
During that time, the witness paid Williams around $500 in cash for two of the contacts, according to the legal documents.
Also during that period, a different witness told the DOJ that they were awarded six contracts for work at the Wise Towers from January through April of 2019, for which the witness paid $200 in cash for the first contract, and then 10 percent of the contract price in cash for the remaining five bids, according to the complaint.
“From at least in or about 2015 through at least in or about 2019, in the Southern District of New York and elsewhere, WILLIE WILLIAMS, the defendant, knowingly committed and attempted to commit extortion,” the legal document reads.
Williams, who retired from NYCHA in October of 2019, has been charged with solicitation and receipt of a bribe, and extortion under color of official right, according to the DOJ. The two charges carry a maximum prison sentence of 10 and 20 years, respectively.
You can find out more about the NYCHA bust — HERE.
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