From the Daily News:
A crooked real estate developer touted himself in a Housing Preservation and Development brochure for “giving back” to his Brooklyn community at the same time he was defrauding the city agency, according to court papers.
Sergio Benitez will be eating those words Wednesday when he is sentenced in Brooklyn Federal Court on corruption charges.
Benitez was featured in HPD’s glossy New Housing Marketplace Plan of 2011 with a blurb accompanied by his photo.
“I’m originally from Brooklyn and I see my work as a way of giving back,” he says.
He had built about 80 two- and three-story affordable homes on properties that had been sold to him for $1 each by the city.
But Benitez had a secret. He was bribing then-HPD Assistant Commissioner Wendell Walters with cash in golf ball boxes and coffee cups and was awarded development contracts in return.
He also took $228,000 in kickbacks from the general contractor hired on the Decatur Cluster development in Bushwick, Brooklyn.
The contractor, in turn, fraudulently inflated its costs that were submitted to the city in order to recoup the shakedown by Benitez.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Cristina Posa blasted the defendant for shamelessly holding himself out as a model developer.