Four highly paid consultants hired to computerize the municipal payroll to eliminate waste and fraud were charged Wednesday with using the city as a "cash cow" to steal $80 million.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara unsealed charges against the four hired as part of a project called CityTime that Daily News columnist Juan Gonzalez first revealed was hobbled by waste and bloat.
The four were arrested Wednesday morning, along with the wife and mother of one of the consultants. All were charged with with using a network of shell companies to siphon off millions of taxpayer dollars.
Bharara said the plotters "used the the city as their own personal cash cow, making misrepresentations that led to the misappropriation of tens of millions of dollars."
Consultant Mark Mazer put front companies in the names of his wife and mother to pocket more than $25 million, according to a criminal complaint filed in Manhattan federal court.
Prosecutors said the defendants also took kickbacks and engaged in money laundering.
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Read on for more fallout from the CityTime mess, including from Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who insists no one could have known the scope of what was happening -- even the Daily News (despite the fact that our Juan Gonzalez has been exposing problems with CityTime for ages)...
"No one, even in the Daily News, would have thought this was happening. ... The Council's had a number of oversight hearings on CityTime. I think we're all anxiously awaiting the results of what the deputy mayor will find. You know, everyone was very unhappy I think across the city to hear this yesterday. But I was grateful to the mayor that he reacted quickly and thoroughly and that he's putting the deputy mayor in charge. ... I don't know that he could have done anything more quickly than as soon as he found out yesterday. You know, you can't, sometimes these investigations start and you can't, you may even know about them, and you can't do anything. They have to play their course out to get to the point where law enforcement can make the arrest. So really, the mayor could not have done anything until after yesterday. He didn't let any grass grow under his feet."