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Cornell Bozier Steered Over $800,000 in Construction Contracts to Co-Conspirator Controlled Companies in Exchange for Kickback Payments

Earlier today, in federal court in Central Islip, Cornell Bozier, the former Chairman of the Board of Commissioners (Board) at the Village of Hempstead Housing Authority (VHHA) was sentenced by United States District Judge Joan M. Azrack to 10 years in prison for conspiracy to commit honest services fraud and three counts of federal program bribery.  Bozier was convicted by a federal jury in April 2019. 

Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, James Smith, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), and William Woolard, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of the Inspector General (HUD-OIG), Northeast Region, announced the sentence.  

“The defendant exploited his official position as Chairman of the Village of Hempstead Housing Authority to enrich himself at the expense of the elderly, disabled and low-income residents whom he was meant to serve,” stated United States Attorney Peace.  “Corruption at any level of government erodes public confidence in the institution and will not be tolerated in this district as the defendant learned the hard way.”

“Cornell Bozier and his co-conspirators engaged in an egregious false billing and kickback scheme resulting in the theft of critical taxpayer dollars,” stated HUD-OIG Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Woolard.  “Moreover, they risk damaging the integrity of HUD programs and violate the trust of the communities who rely on them.  HUD OIG will continue to work with its law enforcement partners to vigorously pursue those who seek to profit by abusing HUD-funded programs.”

The VHHA was established to provide low-income families, disabled residents, and senior citizens in Hempstead with safe, sanitary, and affordable housing, and received nearly $1 million in federal funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) during the defendant’s tenure as Board Chairman from 2011 to 2013.  The funding from HUD included money needed for capital improvements, major repairs, and other large-scale construction projects.  Before HUD would release funds for the more expensive construction projects, the VHHA was required to follow a Procurement Policy designed to ensure open and transparent competition in the bidding process and contract awards to the lowest responsible bidder.

As proven at Bozier’s trial and set forth in court filings, rather than providing his residents with the honest services they needed, the defendant used his official position to orchestrate a bid-rigging and kickback scheme by filling numerous positions in the Housing Authority with either co-conspirators who were actively participating in the scheme, or people he believed could be manipulated and would not interfere.  Bozier relied on bribes, threats and intimidation to pressure other Board members into supporting his fraudulent schemes.  Bozier also fraudulently induced the Board to declare numerous projects as emergencies to sidestep the normal procedure process by which the VHHA obtained HUD funding. During the conspiracy, the defendant and his co-conspirators submitted grossly inflated bids to the Board for repair projects at properties throughout the VHHA and Bozier used his de facto control over the Board to secure the acceptance of those bids.  The work related to those projects was then subcontracted out at a fraction of the amount paid by the VHHA for nominal and, in many cases, substandard repairs and work.  Bozier demanded and received numerous cash payments from his co-conspirators, who prepared and submitted the fraudulent bids as kickbacks for his role in the scheme, which totaled more than $100,000.

For example, the VHHA paid a co-conspirator company, Devlin Mac Construction, $273,900 to replace the roof at one of its apartment buildings.  Rather than replacing the roof, a subcontractor was paid $23,000 to patch and repair certain sections.  The rest of the VHHA’s money was split between the defendant and his co-conspirators, with the defendant receiving $55,000 in kickbacks for his role.  This scheme was repeated and fraudulent bids were submitted for more than a half dozen construction projects during Bozier’s tenure, as he tried to steal as much of the VHHA’s money as he could.  In total, the defendant steered more than $800,000 of VHHA funds to co-conspirator companies as part of his fraudulent scheme and received more than $100,000 in kickback payments. 

The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Long Island Criminal Division.  Assistant United States Attorneys Paul G. Scotti and Artie McConnell are in charge of the prosecution.  Assistant United States Attorney Madeline O’Connor of the Office’s Civil Division handled forfeiture matters.