Manhattan US Attorney Geoffrey Berman blasted the top management at the scandal-rocked New York City Housing Authority on Monday, calling it a “real disaster” and saying there was “no more important case in his office.”
In an extraordinary speech at a Police Athletic League luncheon fundraiser, the federal prosecutor fired back at NYCHA chair Stanley Brenezeoff, who has been mounting a public campaign to block a federal monitor from assuming control of the agency’s day-to-day operations.
“The real disaster is the management at NYCHA and its culture of deception,” Berman said.
“Mr. Brezenoff should be getting on board with the monitorship he signed off on.”
He described Brezenoff’s push against an activist monitor as “not a smart move,” according to two sources in the room.
Berman expressed deep concern about the crumbling conditions facing many of NYCHA’s 400,000 residents, said a third source.
“There is no more important case in my office than NYCHA,” Berman said.
Brezenoff has repeatedly argued that giving the monitor management powers would cause bureaucratic chaos.
NYCHA had no immediate comment.
Four months ago, Berman filed a lawsuit charging NYCHA lied for years about conducting federally-required lead inspections and mounted a systematic effort to cover up conditions in its projects.
City Hall signed off on a deal to settle the lawsuit, agreeing to a federal monitor to oversee reforms and agreeing to spend up to $2.2 billion over the next decade to help repair the developments.
Meanwhile, the three employees that NYCHA suspended without pay following explosive revelations of sex parties at the Throggs Neck Houses in The Bronx are back on the job, as NYCHA’s four-month probe into the allegations continues, a spokeswoman confirmed.
The allegations included salacious charges that some employees — including two of the three who were suspended — engaged in booze-soaked sex parties on the government clock.
Under Civil Service law, the three employees could only be suspended without pay for 30 days, pending the investigation’s completion. All three have returned to work at NYCHA, but not in jobs at housing developments, the spokeswoman added.
The allegations are also being probed by the Department of Investigation.
“It’s seems that no amount of scandal disqualifies you from employment at NYCHA,” said Councilman Ritchie Torres (D-Bronx), who heads the Council’s Investigations Committee and whose mother and grandmother live in the development. “If you’re found to have sex with your subordinates or any kind of misconduct of course you should be held accountable.”
He added: “In most places you would be held accountable, but NYCHA is an alternative universe of accountability.”