Feds Bust Massive NYC Public Housing Bribery Ring, Arrest Dozens of Allegedly Corrupt Officials

The arrest of 70 current and former New York City Housing Authority officials is the biggest single-day bribery bust in the DOJ’s history.
Overhead view of some New York City Housing Authority projects (Photo by PL Gould/IMAGES/Getty Images)

The Department of Justice has announced that it will charge 70 current and former employees of New York City’s public housing agency, NYCHA, with bribery. It’s the “largest number of federal bribery charges on a single day in DOJ history,” according to a press release. 

The indictments were unsealed today by a coalition of agencies across New York City and the federal government including the attorney for the southern district, the NYC Department of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, the Department of Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Labor,  and the HUD Office of Inspector General.


“Instead of acting in the interests of NYCHA residents, the City of New York, or taxpayers, the 70 defendants charged today allegedly used their jobs at NYCHA to line their own pockets,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement.

NYCHA is the country’s largest public housing agency, with 335 public housing developments encompassing 2,411 buildings. The agency said it had 360,970 residents as of 2023. Despite this, the agency is underfunded and has a long history of problems. 

The charges accuse NYCHA building supervisors and other administrative employees of accepting cash bribes from contractors seeking to work for the agency. NYCHA rules stipulate that contracts over $10,000 must go through a public bidding process. But anything under $10,000 is procured through a “no-bid” contract, giving NYCHA staff more discretion to select contracts. In these cases, the accused NYCHA employees are alleged to have charged between 10-20 percent of the cost of the contract as a kickback.

The bribes were relatively small: between $500 to $2,000, but the press release says they added up to $2 million. While most of the individuals charged live in New York City, many live in Long Island, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, according to a list of names released by the DOJ.

Each of the defendants are being charged with solicitation and receipt of a bribe, for which the maximum sentence is 10 years, as well as extortion under the color of official right, which carries a maximum 20 year sentence.


According to the complaint, defendant Angela Williams, a former housing manager at Farragut Houses, is accused of destroying cell phone evidence in January 2023 upon learning about other evidence implicating her. Williams is accused of accepting $15,000 in bribes between 2019 and 2022 and retired from NYCHA in February 2023, according to the complaint. 

The complaint says Williams received a text message from an unnamed co-conspirator, a NYCHA employee in the Office of Mold Assessment and Remediation referred to only as CC-1 in the indictment, who said, “1k per cool?” When Williams asked what the number was in reference to, the co-conspirator said, “Po.” (Purchase order, or a contract.) 

“No problem babe as long as you are being blessed. How many should we have with the task at hand[?]” Williams responded. 

The co-conspirator then sent a text to the contractor, saying, “please take care of my friend in Farragut,” and asked the contractor to send a proposal and bribe from another company that would amount to a $5,000 total payout to Williams. 

According to public records of New York government employee salaries compiled by the website See Through NY, Williams earned a $95,934 a year salary and earned out a little over $70,000 in 2023, the year the complaint said she retired.

Motherboard’s review of the first ten names in the indictment found all were making around the same salary as Williams, with some making as much as $130,000 a year.

The charges span housing developments in all five boroughs and paint a portrait of an agency where bribes had become normalized. The widespread fraud at the federally funded agency points to a much larger structural issue with how NYCHA issues contracts. 

This is not the first time NYCHA employees have been accused of accepting bribes: in 2021, nine contractors were arrested for bribing NYCHA supers in Red Hook Houses and Lafayette Gardens in Brooklyn. 

And a series of audits by the city comptroller’s office found that the agency largely fails to oversee the quality of repairs once those contracts are completed.

NYCHA, like all of the country’s public housing is notoriously underfunded, and the agency last claimed it needed an astounding $78 billion to handle its backlog of capital repairs. But there has been little appetite for funding public housing at the federal level from either party. Tragically, the perception that funding for repairs will flow to corrupt administrators and contractors will not boost the political case for funding NYCHA adequately in the future.