February 24, 2021

A former member of the New York City Council found to have accepted valuable gifts and services from an organization doing business with the City fined $15,000

The New York City Conflicts of Interest Board [COIB] adopted a report by New York City Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings Administrative Law Judge Kara J. Miller in which Judge Miller recommended imposing a fine of $15,000 on a former member [Respondent] of the New York City Council [Council].

ALJ Miller determined that Respondent had accepted valuable gifts and services on 18 occasions from a not-for-profit housing organization [NFP] doing business with the City of New York while serving as a member of the Council.

The NFP received $841,000 in discretionary funding from the Council which funding was sponsored by the Respondent. The ALJ held that some of these funds were used for trips and a dinner cruise around Manhattan for senior citizens living in the Respondent's district. The Respondent, while a Council member, and members of his family, participated in these trips and accepted free accommodations at a luxury resort as well as free tickets to a dinner cruise in violation of the City Conflicts of Interest Law.* The ALJ had determined that such attendance in these events did not serve a government purpose.

The COIB agreed with Judge Miller’s findings that the free hotel accommodations and dinner cruise tickets constituted valuable gifts and that Respondent's contention that his family members were serving as volunteers at the senior events was pretextual.

* The New York City Charter §2604(b)(5) states, in relevant part: “No public servant shall accept any valuable gift, as defined by rule of the board, from any person or firm which such public servant knows is or intends to become engaged in business dealings with the city,” while COIB Rule §1-01(a) defines a valuable gift to include “any gift to a public servant which has a value of $50.00 or more, whether in the form of money, service, loan, travel, entertainment, hospitality, thing or promise, or in any other form.”

Click HERE to access Judge Miller's findings and recommendation in this matter.

 

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