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Former Hempstead Village housing official convicted in bribery case

A jury found Cornell Bozier, a former housing authority chairman, guilty of steering projects to hand-picked contractors and padding project costs.

Former Hempstead village housing authority chairman Cornell Bozier,

Former Hempstead village housing authority chairman Cornell Bozier, who was led out of FBI offices in Melville in 2016, was found guilty on Tuesday.  Photo Credit: James Carbone

A former Hempstead Village Housing Authority chairman was convicted Tuesday of taking $100,000 in bribes as part of a kickback scheme to inflate public housing bids.

Cornell Bozier was found guilty by a U.S. Eastern District jury in Central Islip on a four-felony count indictment for conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud and three counts of bribery over three low-income village properties.

Federal prosecutors said during the trial last week that Bozier, 58, of North Bellmore, and two co-conspirators defrauded taxpayers of $800,000 in U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funds by inflating bids. Authorities said he pocketed $100,000 in bribes over three years.

He could face up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced Sept. 5. He remains free on bond.

Bozier’s Central Islip-based attorney, Glenn Obedin, could not be reached for comment Tuesday. 

Bozier served as the housing authority’s chairman from 2011 to 2013. Witnesses said Bozier steered projects to hand-picked contractors and shell companies, received kickbacks and bypassed the HUD competitive bid process.  

Prosecutors and witnesses said Bozier also bought housing authority votes, including by paying some board members' rent.

“As found by the jury, having been trusted to serve the residents of low-income housing as a Village of Hempstead public official, Bozier instead lied, cheated and stole federal funds for himself,” Richard P. Donoghue, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a news release.

Bozier hired a construction consultant, Peter Caras, who identified projects for emergency repairs and solicited bids from their co-conspirator James Alimonos, officials said.

In one case, the trio determined the cost to fix a Totten Avenue intercom system and padded it by $50,000, which they would later divide among themselves, prosecutors said.

Bozier was also indicted in connection with a piping project at the Gladys Avenue apartments and a $250,000 bid on a Yale Street roofing project that actually cost $23,000 to complete.

Bozier was appointed to the board by then-Mayor Wayne Hall to oversee the housing authority, which serves about 500 residents and has a budget of more than $6 million. 

Village officials could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Alimonos and Caras pleaded guilty to honest services fraud and agreed to testify against Bozier in exchange for a chance at a reduced sentence. The pair are awaiting sentencing and each face up to 20 years in prison.

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