De Blasio learned about Bharara’s inquiry into NYCHA through news reports

City’s law department called request for documents about lead levels “routine”

TRD New York /
Mar.March 31, 2016 03:50 PM

Mayor Bill de Blasio said he learned about the federal request for documents regarding potentially dangerous environmental conditions at the city’s public housing through the media — the city’s law department chalked up it as routine and didn’t inform the mayor.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara filed documents seeking information about elevated lead levels in housing shelters and New York City Public Housing, and how the agency handled environmental complaints.

Thus far, his office has received 440 million records, NYCHA CEO Shola Olatoye told the City Council, Politico reported.

Earlier this month, a federal judge ordered the city to release the information after the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene rejected an earlier request, citing not wanting to violate patients’ privacy rights.

It was the department’s privacy concern that made the request public. Prosecutors had requested the documents in November, the New York Times reported.

“The civil investigative demand served by the U.S. Attorney was handled as a routine preliminary inquiry which was not elevated to the attention of the Mayor,” Nick Paolucci, a law department spokesman, said in an email, Politico reported.

On Monday, Olatoye told the City Council the agency tested the water at 175 vacant units and found elevated levels of lead at 13. The agency, which has $60 million deficit, said fulfilling the request is getting “very expensive,” Olatoye said. [Politico]Dusica Sue Malesevic 

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