Head of NYCHA’s beleaguered elevator division is suspended

The agency is moving to fire Ivo Nikolic, who allegedly violated the agency's anti-discrimination policy

The elevators of 1595 Madison Avenue in East Harlem
The elevators of 1595 Madison Avenue in East Harlem

Ivo Nikolic (Credit: LinkedIn)

The head of the New York City Public Housing Authority’s elevator division has been suspended following allegations that he violated the agency’s anti-discrimination policies.

The agency is moving to fire Ivo Nikolic, who until last week oversaw the safety and maintenance of NYCHA’s 3,237 elevators, following an issue raised with the agency last week.

Nikolic was in charge of the elevator division when three senior elevator directors, Derrick Graham Virgel Fincher and Alan Guadagno, who each reported to him, lied on 33 maintenance reports, according to indictments unsealed by Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. last year.

This month, The Real Deal documented how chronic mismanagement and underfunding of NYCHA’s elevator unit had put passengers at risk, and found that incidents occur in the agency’s elevators at a rate five times greater than others in the city.

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Nikolic was appointed in 2017 to replace the previous elevator division director, Kenneth Buny, following his demotion in relation to an incident that revealed NYCHA officials were not made aware of a fatality until four days after the fact. But despite leading the division, Nikolic never received licensing by the Department of Buildings to carry out elevator inspections.

NYCHA spokesperson Jasmine Blake said in a statement that the agency took “immediate action” after it was notified last week of an issue involving Nikolic.

“Nikolic’s actions, which led to his suspension, are completely unrelated to the safety of our elevators and are outside of his technical role,” she wrote. “We took immediate action when this was brought to our attention last week.”

Citing information provided by city officials, the New York Post reported that the agency took action after Nikolic allegedly violated its anti-discrimination policy.

Images of posters on walls in NYCHA buildings, that included a headshot of Nikolic and a message to “DENY ACCESS” and contact a security office, were first published by The City, a local reporting arm of New York Magazine.

Nikolic’s attorney, Marcel Florestal, told TRD that he and his client are “in the dark ourselves.” “Until we get to the bottom of this with NYCHA, we really won’t know what the true story is,” Florestal said. [NYP, The City] — David Jeans