Former Housing Preservation official: I took $2.5M in bribes

Wendell Walters pleads guilty to, among other things, extortion and racketeering

Wendell Walters (left)
Wendell Walters (left)

Former Housing Preservation and Development Department assistant commissioner Wendell Walters admitted yesterday in Brooklyn Federal Court that he received $2.5 million in bribes from affordable housing developers and contractors during his 13-year career.

Walters, who served during the Bloomberg administration, was arrested in 2011 for charges of racketeering, bribery, wire fraud, money laundering and extortion.

Since his arrest, he has acted as a cooperating witness for the government and testified against three members of SML Development.

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Walters pleaded guilty to one count of bribery and racketeering, respectively, and has testified in exchange for leniency. In his testimony, Walters confessed to taking bribes on several occasions, including a paid trip to Jamaica and a $2,000 payoff stuffed into a cigar box, the Wall Street Journal reported.

He also stated that he accepted a $250,000 kickback from a contractor in exchange for the contractor’s firm being chosen to work on two city-funded projects, the report stated. [Wall Street Journal]Sasha von Oldershausen