New York – New Jersey

NYPD Inspector General and Racial Profiling Bills Will Be Forced to Vote

From Politicker 
June 10, 2013 

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced a plan Monday to bypass Councilman Peter Vallone Jr.’s efforts to halt the passage of two controversial public safety bills by forcing a vote using a rarely-used mechanism that members–including Mr. Vallone—had previously threatened to use against Ms. Quinn.

Councilmen Jumaane Williams and Brad Lander said they plan to file discharge petitions later this week to force the council to vote on two bills opposed by both the mayor and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly: one that would create an independent inspector general to monitor the NYPD and another that would expand the definition of racial profiling and allow those who believe they’ve been wronged to sue police in state court.

Mr. Vallone Jr., who chairs the Council’s Public Safety Committee, is opposed to both bills–especially the latter, which he argues will shackle the police department and cost the city millions in legal fees. As chair, he has the authority to block the bills from coming to the floor, even though they have more than enough votes to pass.

To read entire article, click here


Neil Barfosky scheduled to speak at John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Neil Barofsky, former Special Inspector General for the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) and author of the New York Times bestseller Bailout will be the guest speaker at John Jay College of Criminal Justice on Thursday, April 25, 2013.  The event will be sponsored by the New York/New Jersey Chapter of the Association of Inspectors General and the Department of Public Administration at John Jay College. The Association will send out additional information about this event in the upcoming weeks.  If you are in the NY/NJ Metro area, please join us!

Click here for a recent interview with Neil Barofsky appearing in the Wall Street Journal


City Council Considers Bill to Create NYPD Inspector General

From New York Daily News

A bill to create an inspector general’s office to monitor the NYPD was introduced Wednesday with support from 24 City Council members — 11 votes shy of a veto-proof majority.

Demonstrators rally Wednesday at City Hall in support of bill to create new NYPD watchdog agency.

The proposed police watchdog would be appointed by the mayor, serve a seven-year term and oversee a budget of $5 million.

Supporters point to controversial NYPD practices, such as stop-and-frisk, and note that other large municipal police forces, as well as the FBI and CIA, have such monitors.
To read the article, click here


Senate Passes Bill Creating Monitor for Disabled Care

From New York Times

ALBANY — The State Senate unanimously passed Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s legislation to protect developmentally disabled and mentally ill New Yorkers on Wednesday, but some high-profile advocates have been unnerved by what they perceive as flaws in the bill. Assembly Democrats have said that they intend to pass the bill, but will negotiate some changes before the legislative session ends on June 21.

Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo

The centerpiece of the governor’s legislation will create a new state agency — the Justice Center for the Protection of People With Special Needs — with prosecutorial powers, giving it authority concurrent with local district attorneys to bring cases against those who abuse people with special needs. The Cuomo administration contends that the new agency would provide vulnerable populations with a dedicated force of investigators and prosecutors who can handle often-complicated cases involving victims who in many cases cannot speak.

The biggest concern among some advocates is that the legislation would continue to give a state agency primary control over reports of abuse and neglect, leaving outside law enforcement and district attorneys beholden to the state’s good faith and competence. They believe that local law enforcement agencies would not be given enough direct access to information under the new system.

To read the article, click here

 


Construction Firm Bovis Lend Lease Admits To Massive Fraud

From Gothamist.com

Bovis Lend Lease, one of the world’s largest construction companies, has admitted to fraud and agreed to pay the U.S. government $50 million to settlement the charges yesterday.  And how did it perpetrate the fraud?  Well, a former Bovis executive, James Abadie, explained it this way in court today, “From at least 1999 to 2009, I agreed with others at Bovis to continue the existing practice for Laborers at Local 79 to add one or two hours to their time sheets every day whether it was worked or not. I and others authorized the practice for labor foremen to take vacation and holidays while filling out their time sheets as though they had worked.”

Citi Field, Home of the New York Mets

Abadie, called “one of the most prominent construction executives in the city” by the US Attorney’s office, pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud by fraudulently overbilling Bovis’ clients. The Justice Department worked with the FBI, Manhattan DA’s office, Port Authority, NYC government and other agencies in the investigation.

The US Attorney’s Office also said, “The company, which changed its name from Bovis Lend Lease to Lend Lease after a fatal fire during its demolition of the Deutsche Bank building, will not be prosecuted criminally as a result of the agreement with federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, who say it is the largest construction fraud settlement ever in New York City…. Abadie and Bovis employed the fraudulent overbilling scheme across the broad spectrum of Bovis’ projects in the New York metropolitan area, including some of the area’s most important, large-scale public and private construction projects. Affected projects included the United States Post Office/Bankruptcy Court in Brooklyn, New York; the Bronx Criminal Courthouse in the Bronx, New York; Grand Central Terminal; the Deutsche Bank building deconstruction in New York, New York; Citifield in Queens, New York; and the very United States Courthouse in which Bovis was charged and Abadie pled guilty this morning.”  Irony!


Kitley Covill Nominated for Yonkers Inspector General

From Journal News

YONKERS — Mayor Mike Spano has nominated Kitley Covill, a former assistant chief deputy Westchester County attorney, as the city’s next inspector general.

Kitley Covill nominated for Yonkers Inspector General

“I wanted to nominate someone who has vast experience in municipal law, and who is honest, thorough, and tough,” Spano said at a news conference today  at City Hall. “I believe Kitley possesses all these qualities, and I am confident she will help promote ethical, fiscal, and legal accountability throughout our city.”

The City Council will vet Covill, a Democrat, in the coming weeks before voting on her nomination. She would replace Dan Schorr, a former Republican candidate for Westchester County district attorney who stepped down as the city’s top watchdog last week to take a job at a private investigations firm in Manhattan.

Read the article here: Journal News


Under Pressure, New York Moves to Soften Tough Medicaid Audits

From New York Times

New York State was paying for the medical care of dead people when Gov. George E. Pataki and the State Legislature created the Office of the Medicaid Inspector General to curb billions of dollars in fraud and misspending by health care providers.

James Cox, New York Medicaid Inspector General

The turnaround was startling. Within four years the state had recouped $1.5 billion in Medicaid overpayments, the highest recovery rate in the nation. Other states rushed to create inspectors general like New York’s.

But a backlash from the politically powerful health care industry has erased broad support for the crackdown. Last year, amid a crescendo of provider complaints of overzealous, nitpicking audits and unfair tactics, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo quietly dismissed the state’s first Medicaid inspector general, James G. Sheehan, and directed Mr. Sheehan’s successor, James C. Cox, to collaborate with providers on changes to the agency’s policies and auditing methods.

Read the article here: New York Times


Ethics Commission Quietly Names New Director

From New York Times

ALBANY — The state ethics commission, meeting behind closed doors this week, named a top aide to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo as its executive director, raising questions about its independence from the executive branch and its commitment to transparency.

NYS IG Ellen Nachtigall Biben

The new executive director, Ellen N. Biben, is a respected former deputy in the Manhattan district attorney’s office, and she has also served as a deputy under Mr. Cuomo in the attorney general’s office and as his inspector general, a job she is giving up. Her years of service to Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, are leading some lawmakers to question privately how vigorously she will pursue inquiries into corruption in the executive branch, or whether she will focus more on the Legislature.

The commission confirmed Ms. Biben’s hiring on Thursday after it was reported by The New York Times. The commission held a public meeting on Tuesday and approved the hiring in an executive session, without disclosing it afterward.

Read the article here:  New York Times


Drawing Fire, Deal Gives Agency Staff Power to See State Workers’ Tax Files

From  New York Times

ALBANY — Lawmakers and labor unions on Monday pointedly criticized a secret decision by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration to greatly expand the state inspector general’s access to tax returns filed by state employees.

The State Department of Taxation and Finance signed an agreement last month with the inspector general’s office to allow dozens of people to look at the records, as part of investigations, without needing approval from the tax department or a court.

While only a small number of investigators had previously been able to see the tax filings, the agreement, which was made public on Monday, extended clearance to 63 employees of the inspector general’s office, including several low-level aides and its press spokesman.

Read the article here, New York Times


CIA’s watchdog: No problem with NYPD partnership

From USA Today

WASHINGTON (AP) – The CIA said Friday its internal watchdog found nothing wrong with the spy agency’s close partnership with the New York Police Department.

The agency’s inspector general concluded that no laws were broken and there was “no evidence that any part of the agency’s support to the NYPD constituted ‘domestic spying’,” CIA spokesman Preston Golson said.

The inspector general decided to do a preliminary investigation after a series of stories by The Associated Press revealed how after the 9/11 attacks the CIA helped the NYPD build domestic intelligence programs that were used to spy on Muslims. A CIA officer also directed intelligence collection and reviewed reports, according to former NYPD officials involved.

Read the article here:  USA Today