Honest Employees Stepped Forward to Report Illegalities
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, together with New York City Department of Investigation Commissioner Margaret Garnett, today announced that nine contractors have been variously charged in multiple indictments with bribery, giving unlawful gratuities, offering a false instrument for filing and conspiracy for allegedly offering NYCHA employees bribes in exchange for “micro purchase” contracts.
District Attorney Gonzalez said, “These defendants allegedly tried to seek favors from NYCHA superintendents by offering them bribes, corrupting a process meant to ensure contracts are fairly awarded. I commend the employees who came forward to report the bribe offers, kicking off this investigation. My Office will continue to work closely with DOI to make sure that bribery schemes and other forms of corruption are investigated and prosecuted.”
Commissioner Garnett said, “Bribery is one of the oldest and most blatant forms of public corruption. But, as this investigation shows, corruption cannot take root when honest employees step forward and report it. DOI commends the NYCHA employees who embraced the affirmative obligation that all employees of the City of New York have to report wrongdoing to DOI. Their willingness to report helped reveal these vendors’ charged conduct, which placed taxpayer-funded business up for sale to the highest dishonest bidder.”
For larger construction projects and repairs to be performed by an outside vendor, NYCHA generally solicits multiple bids before awarding a contract. For smaller repairs involving contracts up to $10,000, NYCHA implemented the micro purchase process which does not require multiple bids. Instead, the superintendent or assistant superintendent of a housing development has the discretion to choose a vendor and request an estimate.
The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, in November 2018 defendant Lakhwinder Kumar allegedly told an assistant superintendent at a NYCHA development in Brooklyn that he appreciated the jobs he received and offered him money. That employee reported the bribe offer to DOI, which then equipped him with audio and video recording devices. A month later the defendant was recorded allegedly handing that assistant superintendent $450 in exchange for a micro purchase job at the development.
The following year, in July 2019, in an unrelated incident, defendant Surinder Singh, allegedly handed $600 cash to the superintendent of another NYCHA development in Brooklyn. The employee tried to return the money, but Singh allegedly refused to take it. The superintendent then reported the matter to DOI. A few weeks later, he allegedly left cash in the employee’s office who again reported it to DOI, which then equipped the employee with audio and video recording devices.
Starting in Spring 2019, DOI placed undercover investigators posing as assistant superintendents at the Red Hook Houses West and Lafayette Gardens in Clinton Hill.
The District Attorney identified the defendants as Kumar Construction Corp., of South Ozone Park, Queens; Fine Touch Construction, of Floral Park, Queens; Yuvi Development Inc., and NB Builders, of Hicksville, New York; A. Peter Luger Construction, PKG Contracting Corp. and Heera and G. Builders, of South Richmond Hill, Queens; Khushi Construction Inc., of New Hyde Park; and Amar Contracting, of Richmond Hill, Queens. The defendants are variously charged in multiple indictments with third-degree bribery, first-degree offering a false instrument for filing, giving unlawful gratuities and fifth-degree conspiracy. They were arraigned Monday before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun and released without bail.