FDNY SUPERVISING INSPECTOR PLEADS GUILTY IN MANHATTAN FEDERAL COURT TO ACCEPTING BRIBES FROM OPERATORS OF DAY CARE CENTERS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday February 4, 2012
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that New York City Fire Department (“FDNY”) Supervising Inspector CARLOS MONTOYA pled guilty today to one count of bribery for accepting tens of thousands of dollars in exchange for taking official action to benefit day care centers in Brooklyn. He pled guilty today before U.S. District Judge Paul G. Gardephe.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Carlos Montoya’s greed motivated him to circumvent and/or completely ignore fire safety regulations, compromising the safety of hundreds of infants and children at day care facilities throughout New York City. With today’s guilty plea, fourteen people have now been held accountable in this potentially tragic case.”
According to the Complaint and Information filed in Manhattan federal court:
From 2008 through August 2010, a group of day care center owners who referred to themselves as the “Congregation” engineered and/or participated in a scheme to defraud New York City through the day care centers they owned by fraudulently obtaining reimbursements for day care services that they had not actually provided. Members of the Congregation bribed various city employees to facilitate the scheme and to obtain approval and permits for day care centers that did not comply with city regulations.
MONTOYA has worked for the FDNY as a Fire Protection Inspector since 1993 and has been a Supervising Inspector in the FDNY Public Buildings Unit since 2005. In that capacity, he oversaw the fire inspections of all day care centers in the City. In exchange for tens of thousands of dollars in bribes from members of the Congregation, MONTOYA (a) ignored or minimized fire safety violations at the day care centers owned by members of Congregation so that they could receive new or amended permits and/or avoid losing existing permits; (b) provided fake documentation that purportedly enabled the day care centers to provide day care services to infants, which they otherwise were not allowed to provide; and (c) assisted them in fraudulently obtaining amended permanent licenses required by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (“DOHMH”) that increased the number of infants and children for which they could provide day care services. By providing services to infants and increasing the number of infants and children in their care, members of the Congregation increased the amount they could bill the city.
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MONTOYA, 54, of Brooklyn, New York, faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and three years of supervised release. He is scheduled to be sentenced on June 11, 2012.
Mr. Bharara praised the investigative work of the New York City Department of Investigation (“DOI”).
MONTOYA’s arrest was the 17th in “Operation Pay Care,” a joint investigation led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and DOI. To date, 14 defendants – six City employees and eight day care owners – have been convicted for their participation in the scheme. Of the convicted defendants, three City officials have been sentenced: Leonid Gutnik, a former Job Opportunity Specialist/Child Care Specialist for the New York City Human Resources Administration, received 40 months in prison, Aurora Villareal, the former Borough Manager for Brooklyn and Staten Island Group Child Care Programs at DOHMH, received four years in prison, and Emile Nekhala, a former employee at DOHMH, received two years in prison. Two day care operators have been sentenced – Lyudmila Grushko received nine months in prison and Yana Krugly received six months in prison. Charges were dismissed against three defendants.
The prosecution is being handled by the Office’s Public Corruption Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Harris Fischman, Michael Bosworth, and Brent Wible are in charge of the prosecution.