D.A. announces major expansion of construction fraud task force

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New York Construction Report staff writer

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has added five new New York State and federal agency partners to the Construction Fraud Task Force which identifies, investigates, and prosecutes corruption and fraud in the construction industry. Previously, the task force was comprised solely of city agency partners, but the expansion includes statewide and federal agencies — New York State Department of Labor, the New York State Insurance Fund, the New York State Office of the Inspector General, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor.

The announcement comes during National Construction Safety Week (May 1-5, 2023), an annual industry-wide education and awareness event.

“The work we do in this space would not be possible without the close collaboration and partnership of our integral local, state, and federal law enforcement partners. Construction fraud can fleece the public, hurt law-abiding business owners, and endanger the lives of workers,” said Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. “The expansion of the Construction Fraud Task Force demonstrates the seriousness of our commitment to rooting out illegal activity and creating a safe and fair industry.”

Created by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office in 2015, the first-of-its-kind investigative partnership brings together New York City, New York State and federal agency partners to investigate criminal health and safety lapses in the construction industry, including worksite fatalities and safety hazards, and issues of construction corruption and fraud in the New York City metro area.

“Construction fraud comes in many different forms, and this task force uniquely brings together a wealth of expertise as it relates to exposing and stopping such wrongdoing while ensuring site safety and protecting public dollars,” said DOI Commissioner Jocelyn E. Strauber. “All New Yorkers, including the men and women who don a hard hat every day, should expect to return home safely to their families.

“I thank the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office for coordinating this partnership, and am also grateful to the array of investigative and law enforcement agencies who have signed up and are committed to protecting all New Yorkers impacted by the building and rebuilding of this great city.”

The investigative agencies comprising the Task Force meet monthly and work collaboratively to probe the commission of crimes including fraud, bribery, extortion, money laundering, bid rigging, larceny, and safety violations, among others. The success of criminal cases brought against individuals and companies is in part attributable to interagency cooperation and the consolidation of information and resources. By working together to investigate those compromising the integrity of the construction and trade industry, the overarching goal of the Task Force is to ensure fairness and safety, as well as deter future fraud and misconduct.

“Recent tragedies have reinforced the urgency of improving worker safety and ending construction fraud,” said New York State Inspector General Lucy Lang.  “Our investigative teams of auditors, investigators and attorneys at the Offices of the New York State Inspector General are proud to contribute our expertise to the vital work of the Construction Fraud Task Force, and we look forward to continued collaboration towards safety and integrity for all New York’s workers.”

Since 2018, the Construction Fraud Task Force has recovered more than $6 million in stolen wages.

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