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Among the 70 New York City Housing Authority current and former employees arrested in a federal raid and accused in a massive bribery scheme are people who spent lavishly on vacations, appeared naked on Zoom calls and had been suspended for previous failures.

New details are emerging about the people arrested in connection to the $2million scheme that was unveiled on Tuesday. 

Dozens of employees and contractors were seen being taken away by federal agents in handcuffs after a Tuesday morning raid. They are accused of using the housing system meant for the city’s poor to enrich themselves. 

The accused employees are charged with bribery and extortion after ‘accepting cash payments from contractors in exchange for awarding NYCHA contracts,’ the Department of Justice said in a statement.

The workers are charged in connection with a variety of alleged corruption and kickback schemes, according to the DOJ, which has called the case the largest public corruption roundup in its history.

‘The Justice Department will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law those who abuse their positions in public service in order to enrich themselves. The crimes alleged in this case are serious violations of the public trust,’ Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement.

The NYCHA m bribery scandal hall of shame: Lavish globetrotting vacations, a local hero selected for a leadership academy and an employee once suspended for appearing naked in bed during staff Zoom call

Among the 70 New York City Housing Authority current and former employees arrested in a federal raid and accused in a massive bribery scheme are people who spent lavishly on vacations, appeared naked on Zoom calls and had been suspended for previous failures. Pictured: Juan Mercado, a superintendent accused from taking more than anyone at over $300,000

Various people were spotted pouring out of Manhattan federal court on Tuesday as defendants charged in connection to bribery allegations appeared for hearings

Various people were spotted pouring out of Manhattan federal court on Tuesday as defendants charged in connection to bribery allegations appeared for hearings

Numerous people were spotted outside of Manhattan federal court in the wake of a hearing related to the New York City Housing Authority arrests

Numerous people were spotted outside of Manhattan federal court in the wake of a hearing related to the New York City Housing Authority arrests 

People walk by Manhattan federal court

People embrace outside of Manhattan federal court following court appearances by those accused in the New York Housing Authority bribery case

People embrace outside of Manhattan federal court following court appearances by those accused in the New York Housing Authority bribery case

Juan Mercado 

Juan Mercado is accused to have taken the most money of any of the 70-plus charged.

He’s believed to have solicited and accepted at least $314,300 in bribes dating back to April 2014 until July 2023, while he worked as a super at two different projects on a salary of $99,478.

The feds claim Mercado would routinely command 10 to 20 percent kickbacks before he would sign off on them. 

The feds claim Juan Mercado would routinely command 10 to 20 percent kickbacks before he would sign off on them

The feds claim Juan Mercado would routinely command 10 to 20 percent kickbacks before he would sign off on them

Alex Tolozano 

Alex Tolozano, 57, is accused of stealing $41,000 from contracts worth $205,000 when he was NYCHA’s Bronx Superintendent from 2016 to 2019, court papers say.

He was also suspended in 1995 and 2015 and reprimanded in 2014 for reasons that have not been revealed. 

In 2022, he was seen naked with a woman in bed on a Zoom call with staffers meant for work. Tolozano was suspended 30 days but remained employed by NYCHA until January 2024, according to the New York Post

Alex Tolozano was seen naked with a woman in bed on a Zoom call with staffers meant for work. Tolozano was suspended 30 days but remained employed by NYCHA until January of 2024

Alex Tolozano was seen naked with a woman in bed on a Zoom call with staffers meant for work. Tolozano was suspended 30 days but remained employed by NYCHA until January of 2024

Henry McPhatter 

Henry McPhatter, 44, also had a previous history of being sanctioned by his employers.

He was suspended for eight days in 2020 for demanding that an employee give him $50 to review a resume on McPhatter’s work computer, the Daily News reported.

A superintendent at a building in Brooklyn and another in Harlem from 2020 to 2022, McPhatter’s now alleged to have taken $15,000 off the top of contracts worth at least $90,000. 

Henry McPhatter was suspended for eight days in 2020 for demanding that an employee give him $50 to review a resume on McPhatter's work computer

Henry McPhatter was suspended for eight days in 2020 for demanding that an employee give him $50 to review a resume on McPhatter’s work computer

Elizabeth Tapia 

Elizabeth Tapia, 54, has also been reprimanded for rule-breaking in the past.

Tapia admitted that she approved timesheets of her domestic partner and gave him preferential scheduling treatment without authorization in 2022 and was suspended 15 days.

She’s now alleged to have taken $11,000 in bribes while she was a Brooklyn super from 2019 to 2021. 

Dwarka Rupnarain

Dwarka Rupnarain, 63, is accused of taking $83,100 in kickbacks on contracts worth over a half million dollars. He was the superintendent of three separate projects in the Bronx from 2007 to 2022.

In exchange for the money, according to the feds, he allowed no-bid contracts to be pushed through, according to the New York Daily News

The money apparently was put to use, as his social media presence shows Rupnarian on European vacations and the Minnehaha cruise in Lake George, as well as a taste for high-class automobiles. 

He retired from NYCHA in 2022. 

Dwarka Rupnarain, 63, is accused of taking $83,100 in kickbacks on contracts worth over a half million dollars. He was the superintended of three separate projects in the Bronx from 2007 to 2022

Dwarka Rupnarain, 63, is accused of taking $83,100 in kickbacks on contracts worth over a half million dollars. He was the superintended of three separate projects in the Bronx from 2007 to 2022

The money apparently was put to use, as his social media presence shows Rupnarian on European vacations and the Minnehaha cruise in Lake George

The money apparently was put to use, as his social media presence shows Rupnarian on European vacations and the Minnehaha cruise in Lake George

Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson, who is accused of stealing $48,000 off of contracts worth around $225,000 from 2018 to 2022, retired from NYCHA in January 2023.

‘Mike is something special. He’s the most dedicated worker I have ever seen and the fact that he does it all with a smile tells you also that he is an even better human being,’ an unnamed supervisor of Johnson said when he won a public service award in 2015. 

He worked in the Lehman Village, DeWitt Clinton Houses and the Johnson Houses for over 30 years. 

Rigoberto Charriez 

Rigoberto Charriez, 34, was still with NYCHA at the time of arrest, according to his LinkedIn page.

Charriez worked for over 13 years at the housing authority, going from a caretaker of housing grounds to a property maintenance superintendent. 

He’s alleged to have taken $70,000 from around $377,000 in contracts, as he worked across half a dozen housing projects in Brooklyn and Queens.

Charriez was even chosen to join NYCHA’s Coaching and Mentorship Leadership Academy, meant to teach employees ‘leadership and management skills through mentorship.’

‘My message to all is this: If you want something in life, go after it and be relentless; don’t give up and don’t take ‘no’ for an answer,’ Charriez wrote on a NYCHA profile. 

The complaint against him states he would get $500 in cash per contract from an unnamed contractor.

Rigoberto Charriez, 34, was still with NYCHA at the time of arrest, according to his LinkedIn page

Rigoberto Charriez, 34, was still with NYCHA at the time of arrest, according to his LinkedIn page 

Charriez worked for over 13 years at the housing authority, going from a caretaker of housing grounds to a property maintenance superintendent

Charriez worked for over 13 years at the housing authority, going from a caretaker of housing grounds to a property maintenance superintendent

Nymiah Branch 

NYCHA administrator Eva Trimble said in 2020 that Nymiah Branch was a ‘hero’ who ‘cares so deeply and gives his all to his job.’ 

Branch, 44, is believed to have taken $3,000 while the superintendent at two Brooklyn projects from 2018 to 2019.  

He grew up in NYCHA housing and had 35 years of experience in the projects before his arrest. 

Branch was praised for streamlining travel times so that he and other superintendents could visit multiple developments each day. 

Nymiah Branch, 44, is believed to have taken $3,000 while the superintendent at two Brooklyn projects from 2018 to 2019

Nymiah Branch, 44, is believed to have taken $3,000 while the superintendent at two Brooklyn projects from 2018 to 2019

Nirmal Lorick

The super of a project in Queens, Lorick’s believed to have taken the second most in bribes, having pocketed $153,000 from January 2014 to July 2023.

Lorick previously ran for president of the local teamsters’ union, according to The Chief Leader

He’s believed to have approved pay-to-play contracts worth around $1.3million for the kickbacks. 

The super of a project in Queens, Nirmal Lorick's believed to have taken the second most in bribes, having pocketed $153,000 from January 2014 to July 2023

The super of a project in Queens, Nirmal Lorick’s believed to have taken the second most in bribes, having pocketed $153,000 from January 2014 to July 2023

The charges amount to a single-day record for bribery charges for the DOJ

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said one-third of NYCHA developments were part of the bribery scheme from 2013 to 2023.

During the 10-year period, the accused officials allegedly took more than $2million in exchange for $13million in low-level contracts at over 100 developments.

The charges are linked to ‘micro-purchase’ projects for smaller repairs and other construction at city housing.

Local development managers can award city contracts under $10,000 without going through the public bidding process. 

Officials claim the defendants typically demanded approximately 10 to 20 percent of the contract value—between $500 and $2,000, depending on the size of the contract.

More than 900 law enforcement agents participated in the arrests in New York and elsewhere.

The New York City Housing Authority is the country’s largest public housing organization, home to over 300,000 New Yorkers across 335 developments. It receives more than $1.5 billion in federal funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development every year.

The accused employees are charged with bribery and extortion after 'accepting cash payments from contractors in exchange for awarding NYCHA contracts,' the DoJ said in a statement

The accused employees are charged with bribery and extortion after ‘accepting cash payments from contractors in exchange for awarding NYCHA contracts,’ the DoJ said in a statement

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said 1/3 of NYCHA developments over the last decade were part of the bribery scheme

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said 1/3 of NYCHA developments over the last decade were part of the bribery scheme

DA Williams said the current and former NYCHA employees are charged with bribery and extortion after 'accepting cash payments from contractors in exchange for NYCHA contracts'

DA Williams said the current and former NYCHA employees are charged with bribery and extortion after ‘accepting cash payments from contractors in exchange for NYCHA contracts’

Members of Homeland Security Investigations and New York City Department of Investigation lead the suspects arrested in the bust

Members of Homeland Security Investigations and New York City Department of Investigation lead the suspects arrested in the bust

The Southern District of New York said in a statement: ‘Today’s charges constitute the largest number of federal bribery charges on a single day in Department of Justice history.’

NYC’s Housing Authority has been faced with a series of issues in its aging properties –  175,000 apartments.

The buildings have been plagued by complaints of aging buildings, rat infestations, and leaky pipes, among others. 

‘NYCHA has zero tolerance for wrongful and illegal activity,’ NYCHA Chief Executive Officer Lisa Bova-Hiatt said in a statement to The City.

‘The individuals allegedly involved in these acts put their greed first and violated the trust of our residents, their fellow NYCHA colleagues and all New Yorkers. These actions are counter to everything we stand for as public servants and will not be tolerated in any form.’

Department of Investigation Commissioner Jocelyn E. Strauber said: ‘As charged, these 70 current and former NYCHA supervisors and other staff used their positions of public trust and responsibility to pocket bribes in exchange for doling out no-bid contracts. 

‘The extensive bribery and extortion alleged here calls for significant reforms to NYCHA’s no-bid contracting process, which DOI has recommended and NYCHA has accepted.’



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