Government briefs

Cuomo expands probe of NY foreclosures
Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is seeking information from four major mortgage servicers — Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and GMAC Mortgage — about “robo-signing” in home foreclosure proceedings. Last month, Cuomo called on mortgage servicers engaged in robo-signing to immediately suspend all foreclosure actions in the state, including evictions and foreclosure sales. He also requested that the mortgage servicers not file any new foreclosures until they correct their procedures. “I will not allow New Yorkers to lose their homes due to mortgage goliaths that buck the system by submitting affidavits signed without knowledge of the facts,” Cuomo said. “Such conduct is a fraud upon our courts and a slap in the face of New Yorkers struggling to get by in this economy.”

Construction underway for PlaNYC parks
Construction began last month on a new, $28.3 million, 13-acre park in Far Rockaway, Queens, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced. The park is the fourth of eight to begin construction under the Bloomberg administration’s PlaNYC program, an initiative in which the city is investing more than $300 million to ensure green space preservation as the city expands, so that every city resident lives within a 10-minute walk of a park or playground. The Far Rockaway facility will include a performance space, a skate park and athletic courts. The first phase of the construction is expected to be complete in 2012.

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Flatbush Gardens
Brooklyn landlord added to slumlord list
Brooklyn real estate developer David Bistricer of Clipper Equity has been added to Public Advocate Bill de Blasio’s watch list of slumlords. Bistricer’s Flatbush Gardens — a 30-acre, 59-building complex in East Flatbush formerly known as Vanderveer Estates — has 6,475 open code violations, with 827 of them for serious threats to health or safety. “The landlord is clearly trying to change the nature of the development and make it more appealing to upper-income tenants,” de Blasio told the Daily News. “This may be a landlord who purposely wants to reduce the level of service to encourage … tenants to leave.” Richard Rubenstein, a spokesperson for Bistricer, said the owners have addressed and removed over 5,000 violations and intend to meet with de Blasio to do what it takes to get off the slumlord list.

Cyrus Vance
Crane exec sentenced for bribes
The de facto owner of a crane company was sentenced to two to six years in state prison for bribing the chief crane inspector for the Department of Buildings numerous times. Michael Sackaris, 50, who pleaded guilty in May to bribery charges, gave cash payments to DOB inspector James Delayo, ranging from $200 to $500, on 20 separate occasions beginning in 2000, according to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance. Delayo, who also pleaded guilty, offered phony crane operator licenses to Sackaris’ employees and was sentenced to two years behind bars in June. The case against Sackaris stemmed from an investigation after two deadly crane collapses in Manhattan, at the Azure condominium construction site at 333 East 91st Street and at 303 East 51st Street, both in 2008. “Bribing a city employee — particularly one charged with ensuring the public’s safety — is more than a criminal affront to the taxpayers who expect honest services from the city’s workforce,” Vance said. “We are fortunate that no one was directly injured by the defendant’s actions.”

Compiled by Yaffi Spodek