Modern Home Builder - Winter 2016 - Volume 2 - 11
Brian L. Gardner
With construction in New York City at an all-time
high, the New York County District Attorney's office earlier this year announced what it termed a new Construction
Fraud Task Force. In an Aug.5 announcement, accompanied
by a press conference by District Attorney Cyrus Vance, the
office said the purpose of the task force was "to identify and
prosecute citywide corruption and fraud in the construction industry."
Along with the announcement, the DA issued a press release regarding the task force's first two prosecutions. Both
indictments sprung from the same accident at a construction
site in Manhattan where a worker died as a result of an earthen wall collapse.
While the task force's name speaks to fraud, a principal
focus of it appears to be safety violations that lead to injury
or death. The NYDA has been prosecuting fraud, and to a
lesser extent safety violations, in the construction industry
out of its Rackets Bureau for some time prior to the task
force. This does not mean that the task force will not also
investigate fraud, including bribery, bid rigging and payroll/
tax issues. However, at least initially, an additional emphasis
will be placed on safety issues.
A LIMITED FOCUS
Although termed a task force, the staffing at NYDA is limited, so the entity still works out of the Rackets Bureau.
The task force is staffed principally by ADA Diana Florence
- named the entity's "Attorney-in-Charge" - and a more junior assistant.
At a time when resources are stretched thin and inspectors are in short supply at OSHA and NYC Department of
Buildings, the announcement of the task force would seem
to be a welcome addition to assure legitimate and safe operations. However, with limited resources in the task force
Winter 2016 Volume 2 www.mhb-magazine.com