Seven city employees and four other people were arrested by federal authorities on Tuesday morning on federal charges of bribery and conspiracy, and accused of paying and taking bribes to improperly issue city permits to day care centers, approve vouchers for millions in services that were never provided and a range of other crimes, according to court papers.
The investigation involves more than 30 day care centers and four operators, and accuses the day care operators of paying thousands in bribes to the city workers since 2007, according to a criminal complaint unsealed Tuesday morning in federal court in Manhattan.
The complaint suggests that far more than the seven city workers charged in the case on Tuesday took payments from the day care operators and their associates and that some of the employees and associates of the day care operators cooperated with city investigators, secretly recording bribe payments and other conversations.
The seven city employees worked for three different agencies: the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Human Resources Administration and the Administration for Children’s Services, according to the document.
The investigation focused on a city program, funded with city, state and federal funds, that is meant to help low-income parents obtain gainful employment, the complaint said.
“They used the centers to fraudulently obtain millions in public funds,” according to a person briefed on the matter. The investigation was conducted by the city’s Department of Investigation, federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and prosecutors in the office of the United States attorney for the Southern District, said the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the charges had not been formally announced.
The three agencies were expected to announce the charges at a news conference at 1 p.m.
According to the complaint, a city employee accessed internal databases in an effort to conceal the inappropriate issuance of Department of Health permits for day care centers controlled by the lead defendant in the case, Liudmila Umaraov, described as being at the center of the scheme.
Bribes were also paid to day care center inspectors, and vouchers were submitted to the Administration for Children’s Services for payment for day care services that were never provided, the complaint charged.
OPEN COMPETITION IS THE BEST ANTIDOTE TO BRIBERY, NOT OVERPAID INSPECTORS AND OVERLY COMPLEX RULES.
THE REAL SOLUTION IS MAKING ALL CONTRIBUTIONS PUBLIC - TRANSPARENT.
IF YOU WANNA GET THE CROOKED REGULATORS OUT OF THE BRIBERY BUSINESS AND INCREASE TRANSPARENCY, THEN VOTE GOP THIS NOVEMBER.