Ex-NYC housing exec sentenced to 18 months in prison

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A Massapequa man who pleaded guilty to taking bribes while he was a construction supervisor at New York City's Department of Housing Preservation and Development was sentenced to 18 months in prison Tuesday.

Michael Provenzano, 50, the department's former director of construction services, had pleaded guilty to taking $10,000 annual payoffs from a developer in return for tipping him off on bids and leaking inspection reports that allowed the developer to skirt prevailing wage laws.

Brooklyn U.S. District Judge Nina Gershon sarcastically rejected pleas for no jail time from Provenzano and his lawyer, who said Provenzano was a good and remorseful man who became drawn into doing favors for the developer in part by his desire to help people.

"Why didn't he want to help the employees who were getting lower wages than they should have because of his conduct?" Gershon asked.

Provenzano was charged with taking cash bribes and liquor from 2004 to 2009. The developer, who has not been named, later began cooperating with the government. Provenzano pleaded guilty in October.

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With a dozen friends and family members looking on, Provenzano's voice cracked as he spoke to Gershon. "I did what I did," he said. " . . . I regret doing that. I love my family and friends very much, and I live every day with the embarrassment. I can tell your honor that you won't see me in this room again."

Provenzano faced up to 30 years in prison, and federal sentencing guidelines called for 24 to 30 months. Prosecutors urged Gershon to sentence him in that range, citing the need to send a message to eradicate a "culture of impunity" at HPD despite multiple corruption prosecutions.

"He really was at a choke point," said prosecutor Cristina Posa. "He set a tone of corruption for employees and developers and contractors."

Provenzano was also ordered to pay a $5,000 fine and $30,000 in restitution.

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