2003-04-19 / Front Page

Bribe Brings Equipment To Blanche Day Care

Bribe Brings Equipment To Blanche Day Care

Bribe Brings Equipment To Blanche Day Care

Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown and New York City Department of Investigation Com-missioner Rose Gill Hearn, have announced that an employee of the City's Department of Design and Construction has been indicted on charges of receiving about $48,000 in bribes by rigging 67 contracts worth over $280,000 to provide office furniture and other equipment to a children's center in Manhattan and day care centers in Queens and Brooklyn. Included in the scheme was furniture slated for the Blanche Community Progress Day Care Center Number 2 at 44-20 Beach Channel Drive in Rockaway, Queens, the District Attorney said.

District Attorney Brown identified the defendant as Teresita Sotto, 54, of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, a DDC Structures Division Architect/Pro-ject Manager earning $54,852 a year who has been employed by the City since 1995 and assigned to DDC since 1996. 

The indictment names Sotto and several furniture and equipment companies. It does not name any of the day care centers as defendants.

The present director of Blanche Day Care told The Wave that the center was in its old building at the time of the alleged action and that she was not in any way aware of the activity or what equipment she might have received as a result of the bribes.

"I'll certainly have to check on this, because I never heard anything about it" she said. "If I find out anything, I'll call you back."

District Attorney Brown said, "The defendant is alleged to have abused her authority to procure contracts up to $50,000 by soliciting and receiving $48,000 in illicit payoffs from several suppliers in return for awarding them 67 contracts worth over $280,000 to provide office furniture and equipment to several day care centers."

Commissioner Gill Hearn of the DOI said, "This investigation goes to the very heart of corruption.  Here, an allegedly corrupt City employee manipulated the City's purchasing rules and developed an elaborate scheme with others to line their own pockets rather than help kids and City day care centers in need.  Such greedy and selfish acts can not and will not be tolerated."

The defendant has been charged in a 160-count indictment with Grand Larceny in the Second Degree; Attempted Grand Larceny in the First Degree; Bribe Receiving in the Third Degree, Receiving Reward for Official Misconduct in the Second Degree, Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree, Official Misconduct and Illegal Restraints of Trade and faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

The indictment charges that the defendant between January, 1999 and September, 2001 conspired with others to acquire DDC contracts by falsifying documents, gaining insider information not available to competing bidders, influencing competing bidders and obtaining approval of government officials.

The indictment additionally charges that the defendant helped set up at least four different collusive bidding operations with others and these companies involved in the operation would bid against themselves in obtaining contracts which were collected and submitted for approval by the defendant.

According to the indictment, the defendant, in return, was to receive a portion of the profits from winning bidders and assisted the groups in selecting money amounts that were to be bid.

The furniture and other equipment supplied by the contractors included stools, chairs, an audio visual lectern, easels, a refrigerator, beds, folding tables, lounge chairs, library shelves, cabinets and play and gym equipment.

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