Housing Official Pleads Guilty to Corruption

The case is part of an investigation into bribery schemes.

By Jonathan Dienst
|  Friday, Mar 23, 2012  |  Updated 3:56 PM EDT
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Housing Official Pleads Guilty to Corruption

Wendell Walters, who joined HPD in 1998 and became assistant commissioner in October 2005 was arrested along with six others on kickback, bribery, extortion and other related charges as part of a years-long corruption scheme inside HPD.

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The former assistant commissioner of the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development pleaded guilty Friday to racketeering conspiracy and bribery.

Wendell  Walters, who joined HPD in 1998 and became assistant commissioner in October 2005 was arrested along with six others on kickback, bribery, extortion and other related charges as part of a years-long corruption scheme inside HPD.

Walters, 49, is said to be cooperating with the ongoing Department of Investigation and FBI investigation.

As an assistant commissioner, Walters was responsible for overseeing affordable housing projects across the city. He accepted $25,000 at a time in cash payoffs from developers looking to win contracts and land-use rights. 

Prosecutors said at a hearing in Brooklyn federal court that he received more than $2.5 million in bribes.

At the time of his arrest, U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said Walters and the others “undermined HPD’s mission and cheated the taxpayers.”  

Walters is set to be sentenced July 25. He faces a maximum of 30 years in prison if convicted of both charges and could also owe up to $5 million in fines, penalties and restitution.

Prosecutors said Walters agreed to forfeit properties, including a Harlem apartment, as part of the plea deal.

Walters’ lawyer, Howard Leader, declined comment.

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

Department of Investigation Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn said Walter abused his position within the city's affordable housing programs and betrayed New Yorkers.

"This guilty plea exposes this defendant’s criminal conduct for what it is: a betrayal of the public trust that ripped off programs serving needy New Yorkers and caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in overpayments by HPD," Hearn said.

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