NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — If you wanted to jump the list and score a highly sought-after apartment in an affordable housing complex in Coney Island all you had to do was bribe those in charge.
Three women stand accused of accepting hundreds of thousand of dollars in payoffs, allowing them to live the good life.
As CBS2’s Marcia Kramer found out on Tuesday, the same thing may be going on at other affordable housing developments throughout the city.
Hermes pocketbooks, Chanel and Fendi boots, a Cartier diamond ring, pearls, watches, furs, and, oh yes, ocean-front apartments is Florida are just some of the swag purchased by three execs at the Luna Park Housing Complex with what prosecutors said was hundreds of thousands of dollars in payoffs to let unqualified applicants land highly sought-after homes.
“By paying bribes ranging anywhere between $10,000 and $120,000, this conspiracy allowed at least 18 prospective tenants to bypass the lawful application process, jumping over those on waiting lists and purchasing apartments,” Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said.
Web Extra: Housing Officials Arrested In Bribery Scheme:
Anna Treybich, the former president of the Luna Park board, Irina Zeltser, another former board member, and Karina Andriyan, the former office manager, were charged with enriching themselves by illegally selling the rights to purchase over $5 million worth of apartments at Luna Park, a publicly funded Mitchell Lama complex for about 6,000 middle-income residents. They are charged with accepting nearly $900,000 in bribes in a scheme described by Department of Investigation Commissioner Margaret Garnett as “the equivalent of passing an envelope of cash under the table to snatch an apartment from those families waiting on the list.”
Prosecutors said the the case may be the tip of the iceberg.
“We would have to be naive to think that these were the only apartments in Luna Park that were awarded through bribery,” Gonzalez said. “Residents have told us it’s an open secret this scheme had been in place for many years.”
And the same thing could be going on throughout the city.
When asked if he is expanding his probe to other Mitchell Lama complexes in Brooklyn and the other boroughs, Gonzalez said, “We don’t comment on ongoing investigations of what we’re doing with those. We’re aware that the problems that existed in Luna Park likely exist in other places.”
Prosecutors said the people who paid the bribes can — and will — face eviction proceedings.
DOI Commissioner Garnett also pointed a finger at the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development for not maintaining and monitoring apartment wait lists. She vowed to change that.