5 More Arrests Made in Housing Corruption Probe

A current HPD employee and a recently retired HPD employee were among the five individuals arrested Tuesday

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    Wendell Walters, who joined HPD in 1998 and became assistant commissioner in October 2005 was arrested last October.

    Five more arrests have been made in the ongoing federal corruption investigation into the awarding of construction contracts by the city's Department of Housing Preservation and Development.

    A current HPD employee and a recently retired HPD employee were among the five individuals arrested Tuesday, law enforcement officials said.

    Last October, Wendell Walters, former HPD's assistant commissioner for new construction, and six real estate developers were charged by the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn with bribery, extortion, wire fraud, money laundering and racketeering conspiracy in connection with corruption schemes that allegedly netted them up to $2 million in kickbacks and bribes since 2002.  

    The schemes cost the HPD hundreds of thousands of dollars in overpayments to developers on projects in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, prosecutors said.

    HPD is the largest municipal developer of affordable housing in the country with hundreds of millions spent on construction.

    Michael Provenzano, HPD’s director of construction services, and Luis Adorno, formerly an inspections supervisor in HPD’s Department of Architecture and Construction Engineering, were among those arrested in the latest sweep.

    Provenzano and Adorno are charged with bribery, along with real estate developers and contractors William Clarke, Panayiotis Papanicolaou and Placido Rodriguez.

    A criminal complaint filed in federal court in Brooklyn alleges that Provenzano received $10,000 in bribes annually over a five-year period from a contractor engaged in HPD work in return for HPD inspection reports. Adorno is accused of receiving a $100,000 bribe from a contractor in return for an HPD construction contract.

    The complaint also says Clarke allegedly arranged to pay for $50,000 in residential renovation costs to the home of a former HPD assistant commissioner.  Papanicolaou is accused of paying for the $12,000 honeymoon vacation in Greece for the same HPD official and Rodriguez allegedly received $300,000 in kickbacks from a general contractor on HPD’s Alexander Avenue Cluster affordable housing project in the Bronx.

    Provenzano, Adorno, Clarke and Papanicolaou face up to 10 years in prison and Rodriguez up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

    Attorney information for the suspects was not immediately available.

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