Corrupt Brooklyn developer sentenced to 22 months in prison

Sergio Benitez had taken $200K in kickbacks, bribed HPD official
July 18, 2013 09:00AM

A Brooklyn real estate developer who pocketed over $200,000 in kickbacks from a city Department of Housing Preservation and Development contractor was sentenced to 22 months in prison Wednesday, the New York Daily News reported.

Affordable housing builder Sergio Benitez was also ordered to pay $456,400 in penalties and was told by Brooklyn Federal Judge Nina Gershon that he must turn himself in by Aug. 30. 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 also featured in a HPD brochure in 2011 touting his contribution to the community. Meanwhile, he accepted the kickbacks and even bribed an HPD official, assistant commissioner Wendell Walters.

“In reality, all he gave the people of the city of New York was a hefty bill for his own corruption,” Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch told the Daily News.

“Benitez stole from the very community he had pledged to serve by diverting funds meant for affordable housing construction into his own pockets,” Lynch added. [NYDN]Hiten Samtani