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Former High-ranking Official at NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development Sentenced to 18 Months in Prison

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 21, 2013

Director of Construction Services for HPD Took $30,000 in Bribes from HPD Contractor

Earlier today, Michael Provenzano, formerly Director of Construction Services for the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 18 months followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $30,000 restitution to the City of New York and a $5,000 fine following his corruption conviction for taking bribes. As part of his sentence, Provenzano also was ordered to forfeit the $30,000 in bribery money to the government, representing the proceeds of his crime. The sentence was imposed by United States District Judge Nina Gershon at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, New York.

The sentence was announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; George Venizelos, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI); Robert Panella, Special Agent-in-Charge, United States Department of Labor (DOL) Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations; and Rose Gill Hearn, Commissioner, New York City Department of Investigation (DOI).

From approximately January 2007 through December 2009, Provenzano solicited and received $30,000 in bribe payments from a contractor who had extensive construction contracts with HPD, the largest municipal developer of affordable housing in the United States. The contractor paid Provenzano the bribes in return for, among other things, Provenzano leaking to the contractor confidential HPD inspection reports, which documented the number of workers at a given work site. The contractor was regularly and illegally employing additional workers at different work sites and paying them less than the legally-required prevailing wage. With these leaked inspection reports, the contractor was able to conform his invoices to match the reports, thereby avoiding detection by HPD for his illegal conduct in paying those additional workers less than the prevailing wage.

Today’s sentencing proceeding is the first stemming from the government’s wide-ranging investigation into fraud involving the affordable housing industry in New York City. Four real estate developers and two other former HPD officials have pleaded guilty to various charges including racketeering conspiracy, fraud, and bribery related to the development of affordable housing in New York City. Three additional defendants await trial.

“Provenzano admitted taking bribes to provide a developer with confidential information that helped that developer exploit his workers. Today’s sentence sends a clear message: any public servant, whether a legislator or an appointed official, who dips his hand in the public till will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Serving the public is a privilege, not an opportunity for unjust enrichment. We will continue to root out public corruption wherever we find it,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. Ms. Lynch thanked the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, New York; the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development; and the New York City Police Department for their assistance in this case.

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Venizelos stated, “By his admission, Provenzano was for sale. For a fee, he provided information that benefitted a contractor rather than serving the interests of the city, his agency and the public.”

“Today’s sentencing highlights the Office of Inspector General’s commitment to combat fraud and corruption involving publicly funded construction contracts. The OIG will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate those who facilitate the circumvention of prevailing wage laws for personal gain,” stated DOL/OIG Special Agent-in-Charge Panella.

DOI Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn said, “This defendant should have protected HPD’s construction process. Instead, he traded his integrity so he could pocket tens of thousands of dollars in bribes. Now, he reaps the serious consequences of his crimes: conviction, prison, and the loss of a valuable City job.”

The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Cristina M. Posa, Anthony Capozzolo, and Claire Kedeshian.

The Defendant:

MICHAEL PROVENZANO
Massapequa, New York
Age: 49



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