The Real Deal New York

Ex-city official claims he was fired for “complaining” about Rivington House scandal

Ricardo Morales plans to sue the city for $5M
July 24, 2017 11:55AM

Ricardo Morales

Ricardo Morales, the former head of the Department of Citywide Administration Services, is claiming he was fired from his job because he spoke out against both City Hall’s approach to Rivington House and the granting of political favors to campaign donor Harendra Singh.

Morales was fired in February, the New York Post reported. In a notice of claim filed with the city comptroller’s office, he claims the City Hall had “unlawfully retaliat[ed]” against him because he complained about “City Hall’s lack of truthfulness regarding the lifting of Deed restrictions on Rivington House.” He also said that he was punished because he objected to mayor Bill de Blasio’s attempts to shut down an investigation into Singh’s restaurant in Queens.

In 2015, Morales signed off on removing a deed restriction on Rivington House, a Lower East Side nursing home that had served HIV/AIDS patients. That allowed the Allure Group to make a $72 million profit in selling it to Slate Property Group and partners. At the time of his firing, Morales’ lawyer said his client was being used “as a scapegoat” by the mayor.

In the case of Singh, an audit by the DCAS found his restaurant in Long Island City owed the city $1.7 million in rent and fees on the city-owned property. The mayor was investigated for allegedly trying to persuade the agency not to investigate Singh, a campaign donor.

In March, the mayor was cleared of wrongdoing in a federal probe. [NYP]Miriam Hall