senate Bill S6149

2013-2014 Legislative Session

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

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Archive: Last Bill Status - In Committee


  • Introduced
  • In Committee
  • On Floor Calendar
    • Passed Senate
    • Passed Assembly
  • Delivered to Governor
  • Signed/Vetoed by Governor

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Assembly Actions - Lowercase
Senate Actions - UPPERCASE
Jan 08, 2014 referred to finance

S6149 - Bill Details

Current Committee:
Law Section:
Executive

S6149 - Bill Texts

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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.

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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.

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                    S T A T E   O F   N E W   Y O R K
________________________________________________________________________

                                  6149

                            I N  S E N A T E

                               (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

 EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                      [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                           LBD11813-03-3

S. 6149                             2

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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