Affordable housing developer touted Brooklyn connection while bribing HPD official

New York /
Jul.July 15, 2013 09:30 AM

A developer who will be sentenced on corruption charges Wednesday presented himself in a Housing Preservation and Development brochure as “giving back” to his Brooklyn community while simultaneously defrauding the agency, the New York Daily News reported.

Sergio Benitez, a Brooklyn native, had built about 80 two- and three-story affordable homes on properties that the city had sold him for only $1 each, according to Brooklyn Federal Court papers seen by the Daily News. He was featured in a HPD brochure in 2011 saying: “I’m originally from Brooklyn and I see my work as a way of giving back.”

But meanwhile, Benitez was bribing then-HPD assistant commissioner Wendell Walters with cash concealed in golf ball boxes and coffee cups, in exchange for lucrative development contracts, the court papers show.

Benitez also took nearly $230,000 in kickbacks from the contractor hired on one of these projects, the Decatur Cluster development in Bushwick. The contractor then fraudulently inflated the project’s costs to the city, in a bid to recoup some of these bribes.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Cristina Posa skewered Benitez for his deception. “Giving back” does not involve taking kickbacks and rerouting public funds meant to cover construction costs,” Posa wrote in a sentencing memorandum seen by the Daily News.

Benitez was arrested in 2011, along with more than a dozen HPD officials, developers and lawyers, as part of a federal and city investigation into a widespread bribery scheme, as The Real Deal reported. [NYDN]Hiten Samtani


Related Articles

arrow_forward_ios
A rendering of 165 Broome Street (Credit: Handel Architects)
Nonprofit plans affordable housing development near Essex Crossing
Nonprofit plans affordable housing development near Essex Crossing
All Falls Down: Kanye West’s “Star Wars”-themed affordable housing plan hits snag
All Falls Down: Kanye West’s “Star Wars”-themed affordable housing plan hits snag
All Falls Down: Kanye West’s “Star Wars”-themed affordable housing plan hits snag
Camber Property Group Principals Andrew Moelis and Rick Gropper with 440 West 41st Street (Caro Enterprises, Inc.)
Camber Property buys bankrupt Hell’s Kitchen building for $40M
Camber Property buys bankrupt Hell’s Kitchen building for $40M
RiseBoro's Scott Short and Slate Property Group's John Valladares with 326 Rockaway Avenue (Google Maps)
Slate JV plans affordable housing complex in Brownsville
Slate JV plans affordable housing complex in Brownsville
Parkway Hospital in Forest Hills, Top Rock Holdings' Uri Mermelstein, Joseph Yushuvayev and SYU Properties' Josif Elishayev (Google Maps, LinkedIn, Getty)
Parkway Hospital’s redevelopment plan has a pulse
Parkway Hospital’s redevelopment plan has a pulse
Google CEO Sundar Pichai and renderings of the project (Getty, Google)
Google gets go-ahead to build mega-campus
Google gets go-ahead to build mega-campus
The number of households that owe $10,000 or more in back rent rose 140 percent during the first year of the pandemic. (Getty)
Low-income tenants saw rent debt jump during pandemic
Low-income tenants saw rent debt jump during pandemic
(Istock/illustration by Kevin Rebong)
The social housing movement picks up steam
The social housing movement picks up steam
arrow_forward_ios

The Deal's newsletters give you the latest scoops, fresh headlines, marketing data, and things to know within the industry.

Loading...