Posted by Fred on February 27, 2000 at 00:28:30:
WHY CAN'T CITY DOI NAIL
'CROOKED' INSPECTORS? By DAVID SEIFMAN
THE Department of Investigation hasn't been
able to make a case against a band of
allegedly crooked inspectors in the Housing
Authority -- even though one of them stepped
forward three years ago to blow the whistle.
And now, in a cyberspace slap at DOI, a
former HA employee has posted on the
Internet a 25-minute audio in which the
"turned" inspector provides a detailed account
of bribery and extortion.
The strange saga began when inspector
Richard (Tony) DiAlto -- at the urging of
gadfly and former HA employee John
Ballinger -- told authorities in January 1997
that he and his colleagues were pocketing
payoffs of $300 to $30,000 to approve the
work of building contractors.
DiAlto named the contractors and the
amounts of the bribes, and fingered the
But not much has happened -- except that the
ringleader has been moved to a new job at the
DOI sources said their case was compromised
when Ballinger went public in reports aired on
WWOR-TV in May 1998.
"They basically blew [DiAlto's] cover and
made him useless to us," said one DOI
The source said tapes made by DiAlto
provided "no usable evidence of corruption."
Federal officials looked at the same evidence
and reached the same conclusion, the source
Ballinger claims authorities killed the
investigation because things were getting too
uncomfortable for higher-ups.
"If my perspicacity is functioning, the inept
DOI will now claim ... that by making these
charges public, I have ruined their chances of
getting successful prosecutions," Ballinger
wrote last year.
But DOI did nab three HA supervisors two
months ago -- in a separate, three-year
investigation. They were charged with taking
nearly $20,000 in payoffs to certify
environmental compliance by contractors.
The story might end there -- except Ballinger
says he's not finished. He's promising to put
up more incriminating tapes and documents
on his Web site, www.nycha-spotlight.com.
City Council Speaker Peter Vallone is closing
his political action committee, C-PAC, to
avoid what could be a major headache for his
Last year, Vallone asked the Campaign
Finance Board to rule whether expenditures
made by C-PAC would count against the
spending limit of his mayoral campaign.
The CFB has oversight because it provides
4-to-1 matching funds to candidates who
agree to adhere to spending and contribution
Vallone would be at an obvious disadvantage
if C-PAC's money -- which funded events
such as the council's Christmas party -- were
assessed against his campaign.
To avoid that disastrous possibility, Vallone
sent the CFB a letter on Feb. 14 resigning as
chairman of C-PAC.
But CFB director Nicole Gordon indicated
that might not be enough to stop scrutiny of
Vallone aides have now decided reluctantly to
shut C-PAC entirely. "Its only function will be
to wind down its own affairs," said Vallone
campaign spokesman Adam Macy.
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