Ex-N.Y.C. Shelter Boss Gets Prison Time in $1.2 Million Bribery Scheme

“Mr. Rivera was well-paid,” said David Abramowicz, assistant United States attorney for the Southern District of New York. “He didn’t need more. He wanted more.”

Mr. Rivera accepted more than $66,000 in kickbacks from a company called RJP Construction and its owner, Fernando Rodriguez, a Bronx pastor, according to court filings. He arranged for RJP to get contracting work in one shelter building in the Bronx in return for 7 percent of the construction contract. The kickbacks were disguised as “consulting fees” paid to a company operated by Mr. Rivera and his ex-wife. Mr. Rodriguez was criminally charged in a separate health care fraud lawsuit in which he pleaded guilty.

Mr. Rivera pocketed another $492,000 in kickbacks from a security firm called Prime Protective Bureau, which had received $12 million in contracts to police the Bronx Parent Housing Network’s shelters. Mr. Rivera had the security firm’s CEO cut checks to his for-profit company, Community Outreach Consulting Firm, and to another company run by Mr. Rivera’s son called TLV Consultants, according to prosecutors and Mr. Rivera’s attorney.

Mr. Rivera also required the security company to hire his ex-wife, Lanet Rivera, court filings show, after she was forced to resign from the Bronx Parent Housing Network because of conflict of interest rules. As of last year, Prime Protective Bureau had paid Ms. Rivera more than $372,000. The couple, who married in 2009, separated because of Mr. Rivera’s infidelity and the criminal case, according to a legal filing from Mr. Rivera’s attorney.

Prosecutors said the largest kickback payments to Mr. Rivera — nearly $690,0000 — came from a real estate company that lease records show was linked to his former business partner, Sheina Levin.

In exchange for leasing a shelter building from the company, Urban Residences Corp., Mr. Rivera demanded kickback payments to a consulting firm operated by his son, which had “few if any business expenses,” according to Mr. Rivera’s attorney and the government’s sentencing submission. Mr. Rivera used most of the money to pay down the mortgage of his home, prosecutors said.

Attorneys for Ms. Levin declined to comment.

Mr. Rivera’s lawyer had argued that Mr. Rivera should be sentenced to probation and community service because of his years of charitable work and his cooperation with the government. But federal prosecutors said prison time was necessary to serve as a warning to other shelter operators who might seek to exploit taxpayer funding.

Source: NYT > Top Stories

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