As Board Chair, Cornell Bozier Allegedly Orchestrated a Scheme That Stole Over $500,000 in Federal Funds Set Aside for Low-Income Housing
New York – (RealEstateRama) — A four-count superseding indictment was unsealed today in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York charging Cornell Bozier with one count of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud and three substantive counts of federal program bribery. From April 2011 to April 2013, Bozier served as the Chairman of the Board of Commissioners (the Board) at the Village of Hempstead Housing Authority (the VHHA). The defendant was arrested this morning and is scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon before United States District Judge Joan M. Azrack at the federal courthouse in Central Islip, New York.
The charges were announced by Robert L. Capers, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), New York Field Office, and Christina Scaringi, Special Agent-in- Charge, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of the Inspector General (HUD-OIG), Northeast Region.
“The corruption and betrayal of the public trust detailed in the indictment was compounded by the fact that the defendant allegedly orchestrated this scheme to line his pockets with money stolen from a federal program that provides low-income families with safe and affordable housing,” stated United States Attorney Capers. “This Office and our law enforcement partners are steadfast in our resolve to uncover public corruption at every level of government and prosecute those responsible.” Mr. Capers expressed his grateful appreciation to the FBI and HUD-OIG, the agencies responsible for leading the investigation.
“Bozier created a conduit for illegal activity, one that permeated the layers of oversight put in place to protect the public from the corruption in which he’s alleged to have been engaged. Misuse of public funds in furtherance of one’s own objectives is stealing, no matter how you cut it. We won’t let this type of corruption undermine the safety and security of our communities, or erase the expectation of trust the public deserves to have in those who govern these decisions,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney.
“Bid-rigging schemes such as those outlined in this indictment not only deprive businesses of fair competition, they damage the integrity of HUD programs established to help those in need. The charges today prove that the end result of such corruption will be both costly and extremely unpleasant to the offending party,” stated Scaringi, Special Agent-in-Charge, HUD OIG, Northeast Region.
The VHHA is responsible for providing and maintaining safe and affordable housing for low income individuals living in the Village of Hempstead. According to the VHHA’s procurement policy, when large and costly construction projects are required at one of the various properties maintained by the VHHA, a public request for bids from independent and private contractors must be published to ensure that the Board awards the contract to the most qualified lowest bidder.
Instead, as alleged in the superseding indictment, Bozier used his position as the Board Chair of the VHHA Board to recruit and direct co-conspirators to submit fraudulently inflated construction bids for repair projects on VHHA properties, bypass the required procurement process, and ensure that the construction contracts were awarded to companies owned or controlled by co-conspirators. Bozier directed the hiring of additional co-conspirators for positions within the VHHA to help facilitate the Board’s acceptance of fraudulent bids and exerted improper influence and pressure on those Board members to vote in favor of the grossly inflated bids submitted by Bozier’s co-conspirators. In exchange for these official actions, Bozier solicited and accepted numerous kickbacks during the course of the conspiracy totaling approximately $100,000.
In one case detailed in the superseding indictment, Bozier secured the awarding of a contract to replace the roof at a building operated by the VHHA for a construction company controlled by a co-conspirator. Pursuant to the fraudulent bid, the VHHA paid approximately $250,000 for the project that a co-conspirator paid a sub-contractor $23,000 to complete. More than $200,000 in proceeds from the fraudulently inflated contract were distributed between Bozier and several co-conspirators.
To date, the investigation has identified more than $500,000 that was allegedly stolen from the VHHA as a result of the charged conspiracy.
The five co-conspirators charged in the underlying indictment have previously pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentence.
If convicted, Bozier faces a term of imprisonment of up to 20 years for the conspiracy to commit honest services fraud charge and up to 10 years for each of the federal program bribery charges. The charges in the superseding indictment are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Long Island Criminal Section. Assistant United States Attorney Paul G. Scotti is in charge of the prosecution.
North Baldwin, NY
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 15-CR-303 (S-1) (JMA)