You are on page 1of 17

Prosecutors raid Atlantic Development office

April 24, 2009 08:30AM

Peter Fine

Manhattan prosecutors raided the Soho offices of Atlantic Development Group, one of the city's
largest affordable housing developers, yesterday. The Manhattan District Attorney's office
declined to comment on the raid, and a spokesperson for Atlantic confirmed that there is an
ongoing investigation and the developer is cooperating with the authorities. According to the
Post, the investigators were looking into an alleged bribery scheme, involving paying off city
officials and construction companies to move projects along. The company, founded by Peter
Fine, recently unveiled its Boricua Village project in the Melrose section of the Bronx. The $270
million mixed-used development is slated to include one million square feet of space for Boricua
College. [Crain's]
DA investigating Atlantic Development
July 27, 2009 01:00PM

Atlantic Development's Peter Fine

The Manhattan District Attorney is investigating the alleged employment of undocumented

workers and payment of substandard wages at projects run by Atlantic Development. Peter Fine,
founder of Atlantic, is also the producer of Broadway's "In the Heights." Sources told the New
York Post that investigators have been asking laborers about Atlantic's wages and hiring
practices. The company, which uses many subcontractors, develops affordable and low-income
housing. Prosecutors raided Atlantic Development's office in April. The company's Boricua
Village project in the Melrose neighborhood of the Bronx opened several months ago.
Investigators Thursday raided the Manhattan office of a major developer who funneled
thousands in campaign cash to local politicians, including White House aide Adolfo Carrión.

City Department of Investigation agents spent hours gathering documents from the 155 Sixth
Ave. offices of Atlantic Development Group.

Armed with a search warrant from the Manhattan district attorney's office, agents and cops
removed dozens of boxes of records.

DOI spokeswoman Diane Struzzi confirmed the raid but declined further comment.

A spokesman for Atlantic, Lee Silberstein, said only: "There's an ongoing investigation, and
Atlantic is cooperating with authorities."

One target of the probe is a major Bronx project, Boricua Village, that's at the heart of a Daily
News investigation into Carrión, the director of White House urban policy who, until last year,
was Bronx borough president.

In the last few years, Atlantic's owners, Peter Fine and Marc Altheim, and other company execs
gave Carrión $52,400 in political contributions.

During that time, the then-borough president recommended approval of Atlantic's Boricua
Village, one of the biggest publicly subsidized projects in the Bronx.

Carrión also sponsored $7.5 million in taxpayer funds for the project, which includes 675 units
of housing and a 14-story tower for Boricua College.
The Boricua project was designed by an architect who was doing renovation work on Carrión's
City Island home.

Carrión has yet to pay the architect, Hugo Subotovsky, for work completed by February 2007.
After The News revealed this arrangement, the White House told him to pay.

Carrión and Subotovsky would not comment.

Sources familiar with the investigation said the agency is looking at whether Atlantic illegally
influenced local politicians to win approval for its many projects.

Another source said the probe arose during a gambling and loansharking probe involving
organized crime figures operating at the Boricua Village job.

Investigators are examining allegations that Atlantic paid bribes to city Building Department
employees to expedite permits.

The source said the probe could evolve into how Atlantic got permission to build and how they
acquired land in Manhattan and the Bronx.

Altheim is a target, the source said.

He and Fine have made tens of thousands of dollars in contributions to numerous politicians and
parties, including $40,000 to the New York State Democrats in 2007 and $16,800 to Bronx City
Councilman Joel Rivera from 2003 to 2006

Read more:
Probers looking at whether Adolfo Carrión got a steep discount on home

BY Robert Gearty and Greg B. Smith


Monday, March 23rd 2009, 12:00 AM

Lombard for News

Adolfo Carrión Jr. speaks outside the Bronx County Building.

Schwartz for News

620 City Island Avenue, on City Island, the home of Adolfo Carrion.
The probe of White House urban czar Adolfo Carrión has widened to explore whether he
received a significant discount on the renovation of his home, the Daily News has learned.

The former Bronx borough president, who started last month as President Obama's director of
urban policy, has acknowledged that he has not paid the architect, even though the work was
done two years ago.

Now a law enforcement agency has obtained documents from the contractor who built a new
porch and installed a balcony on Carrión's Victorian home on City Island, sources familiar with
the investigation told The News.

The documents show the project's estimated cost was $50,000. Carrión wound up paying less
than half the estimate - $24,000.

The Bronx district attorney has said he's looking into The News' report that Carrión had yet to
pay his architect. The office declined to comment about the latest inquiry.

Early last week, investigators seized documents from Nationwide Maintenance of the Bronx, the
firm's owner said. Investigators also obtained an October 2006 document signed by Carrión and
filed with the city Buildings Department listing the "estimated total cost" as $50,000. That figure
is typed in, as the document requires.

On that same document, the $50,000 figure was crossed out and replaced with a penciled-in
lower figure - $32,000.

The owner of Nationwide said the final cost was even lower - $24,000.

Owner Marcie Manfredonia said she didn't know what the other figures were and said Carrión
and his wife paid her for the construction work. No other entity helped pay the bill, she said.

Asked how she got the job, she said she was referred to Carrión by someone in the Bronx
Chamber of Commerce. She could not recall whom.

Asked if she built both the porch and the balcony, she replied, "I'm not really sure. I think we did
both of them, but I don't know. We did a job and we were paid for it and exactly what we did we
were paid for."

Carrión has said he paid the contractor for the work, although he has refused repeated requests
by The News to supply proof of that payment or reveal the total amount.

In one of several statements on the house renovation, Carrión said, "I hired a contractor to
perform the porch renovations and fully paid that firm for the construction work that was

The questions about the cost of construction come on the heels of revelations that Carrión has yet
to pay the project's architect.
Carrión has said the architect, who at the time was seeking his approval for a major Bronx
development, worked 51-1/2 hours for a total of $3,627.50. Carrión said the architect has yet to
submit a bill.

On Friday, Carrión's only response to several News questions about the payments to the
contractor was to say the contractor "was paid in full for his work by personal check."

The White House, which last week fielded questions about Obama's NCAA picks, refused to
respond to multiple questions about Carrión's house.

Read more:

2 years later, Adolfo Carrion pays architect who designed home
renovation wrapped up in city probe

BY Greg B. Smith

Saturday, April 25th 2009, 12:09 AM

White House aide Adolfo Carrion has finally paid the architect who designed his home
renovation, a transaction that's part of an expanding city probe.

Carrion, the former Bronx borough president who became director of White House urban affairs,
wrote out the $4,200 check this week - two years after the renovation was complete and a month
after the Daily News exposed it.

The check was written to Hugo Subotovsky, architect of a major Bronx development called
Boricua Village, which is at the crux of a Department of Investigation probe. DOI raided the
project developer's office Thursday in a bribery and corruption probe.

The firm, Atlantic Development Group, got Carrion's approval for the Subotovsky-designed
Boricua Village while Subotovsky was designing Carrion's home renovation.

The Carrion home renovation was finished by February 2007. Last month, Carrion admitted he
hadn't paid the bill.

The architect's lawyer, Kenneth Breen, confirmed Subotovsky got a check for $4,247.50 this
week from Carrion.

"The work that Mr. Subotovsky's firm did for Mr. Carrion was all done in the regular course of
business ... Recently, the work was completed, a bill was submitted and payment was received,"
he said.

Carrion did not respond to requests for comment.

Last month, he said he hadn't paid because the architect was still doing a "survey" of the
property. He promised to pay when the survey was filed with the city.
New York City lobbyists probed


Sunday, November 18th 2007, 4:00 AM

After leaving his city job, former mayoral aide Jonathan Greenspun (below) lobbied on behalf of Thor
Equities, which has big plans for Coney Island.


His new firm didn't detail whom he sought help from, in apparent violation of law.
Lobbyists for some of the city's biggest corporations and developers are hiding the names of city
employees they've tried to influence in apparent violation of the law, a Daily News probe has

Last January, a new law was passed requiring all lobbyists to list by name all city employees
they've pressed to obtain tax breaks, zoning changes, contracts and other perks for their clients.

The News found 95% of the 264 lobbyists who filed reports this year failed to reveal the names
of the so-called "targets" they lobbied on their registration forms.

As a result, the public has no way to know which levers most well-paid lobbyists are trying to
pull for their powerful clients.

On Friday, Acting City Clerk Michael McSweeney, whose office monitors lobbyists, ordered an
investigation to ensure the law is enforced in response to the ongoing News investigation of

"People are supposed to be following the law," McSweeney said. "They're supposed to
specifically state the people that they're lobbying and the subject matter upon which they are
lobbying. The law is clear.

"Based on what we've seen, clearly a lot of people are not adhering to that as specifically as

The lobbyists could face fines and even prosecution on misdemeanor charges.

Mayor Bloomberg enthusiastically supported the new law as a way to shed light on what used to
be back-room deals.

Lobbyists were told to attend training sessions to learn how to fulfill the new law's requirements.
Some lobbyists did and included detailed lists of names.

For instance, Bryan Cave LLP, a lobbyist law firm based in Manhattan, carefully recorded the
names of all city employees with whom the firm's lobbyists met.

Atlantic Development Group, for instance, paid Bryan Cave $12,544 this year to seek a permit to
build affordable housing.

Records show the lobbyists reached out to Robert Dobruskin, an administrative city planner, and
David Karnovsky, a lawyer in the city Planning Department.

"We take the lobbying requirements very seriously because we believe the city takes them
seriously," said Robert Davis, one of the firm's lawyers.

In contrast, there's Jonathan Greenspun, who left his job as commissioner of Mayor Bloomberg's
community assistance unit in June 2006 and registered as a lobbyist for the firm FHGR.
The law prohibits former city employees from lobbying any city agency on matters in which they
had personal involvement while city employees. None of Greenspun's filings reveals the names
of the city employees he lobbied.

During his years working for the mayor, Greenspun served as a liaison with numerous city
agencies, including the Department of Buildings and the city Economic Development Corp.

Immediately upon leaving the Office of the Mayor, Greenspun began lobbying both the
Buildings Department and the EDC on behalf of seven corporate clients seeking zoning changes
and city contracts, records show.

That included representing Thor Equities in its quest to win EDC aid to develop an amusement
park and condos in Coney Island; his firm got $167,000, records show.

The records do not show the names of people who were lobbied. Greenspun declined to
comment, but his partner Mike McKeon said he would not release the names because his lawyers
said the forms comply with the law.

In addition, the forms raise another issue. City employees are barred from lobbying their former
colleagues for a year after leaving public service.

Greenspun's lobbyist firm, FHGR, insists Greenspun only lobbied employees in city agencies,
not employees of the mayor's office.

Some records back that up: Van Wagner Communications, a billboard company, paid FHGR
$50,000 to lobby on an unspecified "local law." The record states Greenspun lobbied "only" the
Buildings Department, while his colleague, McKeon, lobbied the mayor's office.

But other records list Greenspun as one of several FHGR lobbyists lobbying the "Office of the
Mayor" on behalf of several clients during the year he was supposed to be banned from doing so.

Alabama-based Intergraph Corp., for instance, paid Greenspun and FHGR $132,000 to lobby the
mayor's office and other city agencies on "security technology" within the year after Greenspun
left City Hall.

McKeon said Greenspun was "extremely scrupulous" to avoid breaking the law on the one-year
ban, seeking a ruling from a city ethics attorney and FHGR's counsel.

"He was very diligent in making sure that everything he did was right and proper," McKeon
wrote in response to e-mailed questions. "He did not speak to any mayoral staffers about any
client business at all during his ban."

McKeon said he handled all contact with the mayor's office during Greenspun's one-year ban.
Last month The News revealed that another mayoral aide, Anthony (Skip) Piscitelli, lobbied his
former colleagues within a year of leaving public service.

Piscitelli's lobbyist firm, Wilson Elser, did not list the names of the mayor's aides Piscitelli
lobbied on its 2007 forms, records show.

Disputing the law's fine print

It's impossible to know which employees were lobbied by former politicians such as ex-Council
Speaker Peter Vallone Sr. and ex-Queens Borough President Claire Schulman.

Vallone says he followed the law, which states lobbyists must report "the person or agency
before which the lobbyist has lobbied." He interprets that to mean one or the other.

The city clerk's instructions to lobbyists state otherwise, spelling out that if a lobbyist contacts a
city employee on behalf of a paying client, he must reveal that person's name. The city clerk's
office said it will examine Vallone's filings.

Schulman said she was unaware that she was required to list the names of those she lobbied on
behalf of a Queens developer who wants to develop two sites in Forest Hills. When asked, she
volunteered the name of city employee John Young.

"I didn't like doing it to begin with," she said. "I don't like being a lobbyist or a consultant. It's
just not my thing."

Buildings sprang up as donations rained down on Bronx Borough

President Adolfo Carrion

BY Benjamin Lesser and Greg B. Smith

Updated Sunday, March 1st 2009, 1:35 PM


Bronx Boro President Adolfo Carrion on the roof of the Bronx Courthouse with the old and the new
Yankee Stadium behind him.

The man who is President Obama's newly minted urban czar pocketed thousands of dollars in
campaign cash from city developers whose projects he approved or funded with taxpayers'
money, a Daily News probe found.

Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion often received contributions just before or after he
sponsored money for projects or approved important zoning changes, records show.
Most donations were organized and well-timed.

In one case, a developer became a Carrion fund-raiser two months before the borough president
signed off on his project, raising more than $6,000 in campaign cash.

In another, eight Boricua College officials came up with $8,000 on the same day for Carrion
three weeks before the school filed plans to build a new tower. Carrion ultimately approved the
project and sponsored millions in taxpayer funds for it.

Carrion resigned as borough president effective Sunday and begins his new job as director of the
White House Office on Urban Policy Monday.

Saturday Carrion declined to answer written questions about his receipt of timely campaign
contributions. Instead, he issued a terse statement:

"Thousands of people who share the Borough President's vision for building a stronger Bronx
and a stronger city have contributed to Carrion NYC. Teachers, parents, police officers,
firefighters, members of the business community and concerned citizens have all contributed to
the borough president's efforts to strengthen the Bronx and stimulate the local economy and he is
proud to have such wide-ranging support."

Here's a look at some of his donors:


Last year Jonathan Coren and a partner wanted to build 166 units of affordable housing in

Coren, for the first time in his life, became a registered fund-raiser - for Carrion. He raised
$2,577 from multiple donors in the three weeks before Carrion approved the project on March

On a single day - April 12 - he raised another $1,255, less than a month before the Planning
Commission, which includes a Carrion appointee, approved Idle LLC's project.

Coren raised $6,532 for Carrion from 43 donors. The developers are awaiting funding from the

Asked about the purpose of fund-raising for Carrion just before he reviewed the project, Coren
replied, "None, other than, to be perfectly honest with you, at that time I became aware of his
campaign. It is what it is."

Coren says he never spoke "directly" with Carrion about campaign donations.

A top source for Carrion's campaign cash comes from a publicly funded project to build 679
units of housing and a 14-story college tower in Melrose.

Top officials at the Atlantic Development Group, the project's developer, and Boricua College
contributed nearly $70,000 to Carrion during the time the project, called Boricua Village, moved
through the system.

Atlantic needed Carrion and his planning commission rep to approve zoning changes and lift
height restrictions for the tower.

The first application for the project was filed March 28, 2006. Less than a month later, Carrion
got eight donations on the same day for $8,750, records show.

They all came from Boricua College administrators, including a $4,000 check from President
Victor Alicea. Alicea has been a fund-raiser for Carrion.

On March 26, 2007, Carrion approved the application.

The grand total for Boricua donations was $17,512, while Atlantic owner Peter Fine and his
employees came up with $52,400 - the largest single source of donations for Carrion.

In July, Carrion announced he was sponsoring $3 million in taxpayer funds for the project.
Records show he has since sponsored another $4.5 million for the college part of the project.

Alicea insisted all Boricua donations came from "individuals," not the college. "We're very
careful about anything that could be construed as a tradeoff or a quid pro quo."

A spokesman for Atlantic said Fine believes Carrion "is an outstanding public servant, and for
that reason alone is happy to give financial support to his political endeavors."


In 2004, a real estate group moved to build affordable housing on the site of an old Mott Haven
brewery on St. Ann's Ave. The project stalled.

In April 2007, dozens of employees of Jackson Development Group started donating to Carrion.
There were 23 contributions in two months, including $1,000 from a construction worker.

By November 2007, 41 donations from Jackson employees to Carrion totaled $35,650. In May
2008, Carrion approved the project. Two months later, he announced he was sponsoring $3
million in taxpayer funds for the project.

Jackson did not return a call seeking comment.

One of Carrion's largest donors and fund-raisers is Jose Velazquez, owner of Tri-Line
Contracting Inc. of Manhattan. Between his employees and developers and other donors, he has
raised $83,700 for Carrion.

Tri-Line is working at two of the biggest developments Carrion has championed, including the
new Yankee Stadium.

Carrion signed off on it in 2005 with the caveat that the Yanks hire a big percentage of local
contractors and workers. One of the contractors was Tri-Line, which is building a conference
center and museum in the stadium.

Velazquez said he raised money for Carrion because he supported him as a fellow Hispanic and
felt that "this is the guy to lead this city."

Carrion "has never ever equated raising money with giving us work," Velazquez said, adding
that Carrion did not help get him the stadium job.


Tri-Line is also building a Staples store in a new mall a block from the stadium called Gateway
at Bronx Terminal Market. Velazquez said he got the job through competitive bidding.

Developer Related Companies' subsidiary, BTM Development Partners, needed Carrion and the
city Planning Commission to change zoning, modify height restrictions and approve permits for
parking spaces.

As the project moved forward, the neighborhood railed about increased traffic and the impact the
chain stores would have on local businesses. All the while Related executives wrote campaign
checks to Carrion.

On March 10, 2005, five $1,000 donations from Related executives arrived. On June 20, 2005,
the company notified the city it planned to build a 1 million-square-foot retail center with 2,610
parking spaces and a 250-room hotel.

On Oct. 19, 2005, Carrion approved the project, with his office monitoring local hiring. Since
2003, Carrion has received $39,100 from 24 Gateway-related donations.

Related declined to answer questions.


In March 2008, Carrion sponsored $1 million in public funds for the Ader Group's plan to build
177 low-income rental units. On June 17, owner Israel Neiman gave Carrion $4,950, a donation
Neiman said was "just coincidental."
Neiman said the taxpayer money has not been spent and the project is on hold due to the collapse
of the economy.