Two LIers accused in NYC housing scheme
A New York City housing official from Valley Stream was accused Tuesday of leaking information to a developer about inspections and upcoming projects in return for a bottle of booze and $10,000 annual bribes.
Michael Provenzano, 49, director of construction services at the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, was one of five men, including another Long Islander, charged in Brooklyn federal court with affordable housing corruption schemes.
The second Long Islander -- William B. Clarke, 43, of Glen Head, an executive at a Queens development company -- allegedly arranged for more than $50,000 in house renovations for a former HPD assistant commissioner in return for the commissioner's support for HPD subsidies on a housing project.
Prosecutors said the bribed ex-commissioner, who was not named, had pleaded guilty to racketeering this year and is cooperating with the government. Former HPD Assistant Commissioner Wendell Walters pleaded guilty to racketeering in March.
Clarke, Provenzano and the three others charged in separate schemes -- HPD inspector Luis Adorno of Scarsdale, and contractors Panayiotis Papancilaou of Brooklyn, who allegedly paid for a $12,000 Greek honeymoon for the unnamed HPD official, and Placido Rodriguez of Fort Lee -- were all released on $150,000 bail bonds.
The five men did not enter pleas. HPD said Provenzano and Adorno had been suspended without pay.
"Today's arrests should make it crystal clear that HPD will not tolerate any attempt by employees or contractors to abuse the trust of the people," said HPD Commissioner Mathew Wambua.
Provenzano first suggested a bribery scheme in a meeting with a developer at a "cafe" near his home in Valley Stream in 2004, offering to tip the developer to upcoming projects, according to the charges. The developer, now a cooperating witness, gave Provenzano a bottle of liquor.
From 2004 to 2009, the criminal complaint said, the developer gave Provenzano annual $10,000 cash payments. Provenzano allegedly provided copies of internal HPD inspection reports that allowed the developer to skirt enforcement of prevailing wage laws.