Bill S6149-2013

Establishes a special prosecutor for fraud, waste and corruption in New York city department of buildings and Board of Standards and Appeals

Establishes a special prosecutor for fraud, waste and corruption in New York city department of buildings and Board of Standards and Appeals to investigate and prosecute.

Details

Actions

  • Jan 8, 2014: REFERRED TO FINANCE

Memo

BILL NUMBER:S6149

TITLE OF BILL: An act in relation to appointing a special prosecutor to investigate and prosecute acts of fraud, waste and corruption by the New York city department of buildings and the New York city board of standards and appeals

PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL:

The purpose of the bill is to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate and prosecute acts of fraud, waste and corruption by the New York City Department of Buildings and the Board of Standards and Appeals.

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:

Section 1.1: Provides that a special prosecutor be appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate to investigate and prosecute acts of fraud, waste and corruption by the New York city department of buildings and New York City Board of Standards and Appeals. The special prosecutor would serve for a term of three years unless removed for cause.

Section 1.2: Provides that the special prosecutor shall receive an annual salary fixed by law and shall possess all of the powers of an assistant attorney prosecutor. The special prosecutor shall devote his or her full time and effort exclusively to investigate and prosecute actions and proceedings relating to claims of malfeasance, conflicts of interest and acts of fraud, waste and corruption against the New York city department of buildings and board of standard and appeals.

Section 1.3: Provides that the special prosecutor may appoint other employees as may needed.

Section 1.4: Provides that the special prosecutor has the following functions: (a) to receive, investigate and prosecute complaints from the public concerning alleged malfeasance, conflicts of interest and acts of fraud, waste and corruption by anyone within the department of buildings and the board of standard and appeals and anyone doing business with those agencies, (b) to receive, investigate and prosecute complaints of alleged failure of the agencies to enforce and comply with the agencies' procedures, building code, zoning resolution, and other pertinent laws, rules and regulations, (c) to receive, investigate and prosecute complaints of alleged failure of local officials and employees and private individuals to comply with the agencies' procedures, building code, zoning resolution, and other pertinent laws, rules and regulations, (d) to receive, investigate and prosecute complaints from the public or any other source concerning alleged solicitation for remuneration, (e) to subpoena and enforce the attendance of witnesses, administer oaths, take testimony and compel the production of such books, papers, records and documents, (f) to request from any department or agency of New York City and State cooperation and assistance, services and data, (g) to make an annual report to the governor, the attorney general and the legislature concerning such work during the preceding year, (h) to develop and implement guidelines and procedures for the conduct of investigations and to develop training programs for investigators and other members

of the staff, and (j) to do all things necessary or convenient to carry out the functions, powers and duties set forth in this act.

Section 1.5: Any organization, institution, or other person who reports or provides information to the special prosecutor in good faith, and without malice, shall not be subject to an action for civil damages as the result of such communication. Any such communication shall remain confidential and shall not be disclosed unless consented to or unless ordered by the court.

Section 2: This act shall take effect on the sixtieth day after it shall have become a law.

JUSTIFICATION:

The New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) and Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) play an integral role in ensuring safety and enforcing regulations in all aspects of construction, development and use of buildings and properties throughout New York City. Despite their significant responsibility and authority, serious questions have been raised about the integrity and efficient administration of the agencies.

There have been numerous occasions where DOB approved construction/development projects despite the apparent flaws in the plans and the serious objections expressed by the community. In addition, BSA has become a body which completely ignores the opinions and concerns of the very communities that will be directly impacted by its decisions. While the Borough Presidents and Community Boards often submit comments on variance applications on behalf of the community, their opinions are only advisory and often dismissed by BSA. Although zoning variances and special permits were originally created to help property owners only in rare and inevitable circumstances, BSA has routinely disregarded this guideline by approving the majority of the applications.

In order to restore public trust and to maintain efficiency in those agencies, the legislation would appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate and prosecute fraud, corruption, waste, abuse and mismanagement by anyone within the agencies or anyone doing business with those agencies. The legislation would also authorize the independent prosecutor to investigate the failure of the agencies, employees, local officials and private individuals to abide by the buildings code, zoning resolution and other pertinent laws, rules and regulations.

PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:

None

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS FOR STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS:

None known.

EFFECTIVE DATE:

This act shall take effect on the 60th day after it shall have become a law.


Text

STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 6149 IN SENATE (PREFILED) January 8, 2014 ___________
Introduced by Sen. AVELLA -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Finance AN ACT in relation to appointing a special prosecutor to investigate and prosecute acts of fraud, waste and corruption by the New York city department of buildings and the New York city board of standards and appeals THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. 1. The governor, by and with the advice and consent of the senate, shall within 30 days of the effective date of this act appoint a special prosecutor to investigate and prosecute acts of fraud, waste and corruption by the New York city department of buildings and New York city board of standards and appeals. The special prosecutor shall serve for a term of 3 years unless removed by the governor, after notice and an opportunity for a hearing, and then only for one or more of the following reasons: permanent disability which renders the special prose- cutor incapable of performing the duties of his or her office; gross inefficiency, typified by a lack of ability to properly conduct investi- gations and prosecutions; neglect of duty, including an unwillingness to pursue claims of criminal fraud, abuse or corruption; malfeasance; conviction of a felony; or conduct involving moral turpitude. 2. Such special prosecutor shall receive an annual salary to be fixed by law from within the amounts appropriated therefor. Such special prosecutor shall possess all of the powers of an assistant attorney general otherwise authorized by this act provided, however that such special prosecutor shall devote his or her full time and effort exclu- sively to investigations and prosecutions of actions and proceedings relating to claims of malfeasance, conflicts of interest and acts of fraud, waste and corruption against the New York city department of buildings and New York city board of standards and appeals. 3. The special prosecutor may appoint such other deputies, directors, assistants, and other employees to serve at the special prosecutor's pleasure and discretion as may be needed for the performance of duties
and may prescribe their powers and fix their compensation within the amounts appropriated therefor. 4. The special prosecutor shall have the following special functions, powers and duties: (a) To receive, investigate and prosecute complaints as more partic- ularly enumerated in paragraphs (b) through (g) of this subdivision whenever such special prosecutor reasonably concludes that the activity alleged may constitute a crime; (b) To receive, investigate and prosecute complaints from the public or any other source concerning alleged malfeasance, conflicts of inter- est and acts of fraud, waste and corruption by anyone within the depart- ment of buildings and the board of standards and appeals or anyone doing business with those agencies; (c) To receive, investigate and prosecute complaints of alleged fail- ure of the agencies to enforce and comply with the agencies' procedures, building code, zoning resolution, and other pertinent laws, rules and regulations; (d) To receive, investigate and prosecute complaints of alleged fail- ures of local officials and employees and private individuals to comply with the agencies' procedures, building code, zoning resolution, and other pertinent laws, rules and regulations; (e) To receive, investigate and prosecute complaints from the public or any other source concerning alleged solicitation for remuneration directly or indirectly, overtly or covertly, in cash or in kind, in return for doing their jobs, overlooking violations, approving contracts and applications, misrepresenting or falsifying information on documents filed with the city, and engaging in any other illegal activities; (f) To conduct any inquiry pertinent or material to the discharge of the functions, powers and duties imposed by law; and through designated members of the staff, to subpoena and enforce the attendance of witnesses, administer oaths, take testimony and compel the production of such books, papers, records and documents as may be relevant to any such inquiry and investigation; (g) To request from any department, board, bureau, commission or other agency of New York city and state and its political subdivisions, and the same are authorized and directed to provide, such cooperation and assistance, services and data as will enable him or her properly to carry out his or her functions, powers and duties; (h) To make an annual report to the governor, the attorney general and the legislature concerning such work during the preceding year, and to make such further interim reports to them as they or any of them shall deem advisable or require; (i) To develop and implement guidelines and procedures for the conduct of investigations and to develop training programs for investigators and other members of the staff; and (j) To do all things necessary or convenient to carry out the func- tions, powers and duties set forth in this act. 5. Any organization, institution, or other person who reports or provides information to the special prosecutor in good faith, and with- out malice, shall not be subject to an action for civil damages or other relief as the result of such communication. Any such communication shall remain confidential and shall not be disclosed unless consented to or unless ordered by the court. S 2. This act shall take effect on the sixtieth day after it shall have become a law.

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