The city on Wednesday filed a complaint in Manhattan Supreme Court seeking a temporary receiver for one of New York’s largest homeless service providers — an act officials referred to not just as unprecedented, but as a source of pride.
They had diligently built a case alleging fraud against Childrens Community Services — a firm that’s reaped nearly $500 million in recent years — and were now taking action to protect both taxpayers and the homeless, officials said.
“We’re proud that our staff saw something and said something,” said Isaac McGinn, a Department of Social Services spokesperson.
But the city’s own court filings show that warning signs about the firm began to emerge as early as September 2015.
A review of those filings and other documents by THE CITY reveal a nonprofit formed in 2014 by a former hotel executive that quickly expanded into a multi-million dollar operation that provided nearly 2,000 units of housing for the homeless.
But the company kept getting contracts to help with the city’s homeless crisis even as concerns over its operations grew. The suspicions culminated in raids this week by city and federal officials amid the city’s accusations of fraud, bid-rigging and bogus vendor headquarters
From the fall of 2015 into the following spring, the Department of Social Services received invoices submitted with repeat and duplicate charges, the filings show.
The story noted that the founder of Childrens Community Services, Thomas Bransky, was a hotelier with no background in homeless services when he launched the nonprofit in early 2014 — and raised questions about whether the company had a physical administrative office.
A copy of Branksy’s resume THE CITY obtained through a public records request shows his previous titles — all at Chicago hotels — were account manager, sales manager and front desk manager.
A message left at a phone number he submitted in documents to the city wasn’t returned.
In May 2018, city social service officials’ concerns about “CCS’s suspicious subcontracting, invoicing and billing practices” prompted them to notify the city’s Department of Investigation.
This week, DOI and federal prosecutors executed search warrants of addresses linked with the firm and its vendors, the court filings show.
Questions sent to DOI late Wednesday about the length of the investigation weren’t immediately answered.