Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese, and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Mob linked firm hired by NYC to demolish abandoned housing project


The city has hired Breeze National to demolish a NYCHA's Prospect Plaza Houses, which were vacated starting 12 years ago. 
The city has hired Breeze National to demolish a NYCHA's Prospect Plaza Houses, which were vacated starting 12 years ago.

The city has hired a demolition firm with mob ties and a deadly safety record to finally tear down an abandoned public housing development that's remained vacant for more than a decade, the Daily News has learned.
Some 1,500 tenants of the Prospect Plaza Houses in Crown Heights were relocated starting in 2001 with the promise that they'd be back in by 2005 once everything was renovated.
A decade later, the renovation plans have been abandoned and the city has decided on demolition instead, hiring a company called Breeze National to tear down the four boarded-up, rotting buildings that remain.

The hiring of Breeze, however, has its own set of issues.
Until recently, the company was owned by Toby Romano Sr., an alleged organized crime associate who was convicted 1988 of bribing a health inspector during an asbestos removal job.
In 2006 the city's Business Integrity Commission denied a Breeze affiliate, Breeze Carting, a license to haul trash in the city, citing Romano's record and charging that the company made what it termed "material misrepresentations" aka "lies" in its application. By 2009 the city began requiring that Breeze hire a special anti-corruption monitor to oversee its work but even that didn't necessarily fix the problem.

That year while Breeze was tearing down the old Shea Stadium, the monitor in place discovered that one of Breeze's employees was Herb Pate, a "known associate of the Lucchese crime family." Breeze got rid of Pate and insisted that since then, Romano Sr., the company president, "no longer has an ownership interest.” That's not true of Romano Sr.'s wife, Mary. Breeze says Mary is no longer on the payroll but bid documents obtained by the News show she's still listed as VP/Treasurer and is co-owner with Romano's son, Toby Jr. Breeze officials did not return calls Saturday.
On April 2, 2012, Breeze and four other demolition firms submitted bids to the city Housing Preservation & Development, which has partnered with NYCHA to rip down the high-rise towers and replace them with low-rise townhouses and apartments. Breeze's bids were dramatically different than every other bidders, documents show, totaling just $5.8 million. The next lowest bidder, NASDI LLC, bid $10.5 million for the same work.
Twenty days after the bids were submitted on April 22, 2012, an old garage Breeze was demolishing for Columbia University uptown collapsed, trapping three men. One man died, and federal regulators later alleged Breeze was told of a crack in the structural steel before the accident, but did nothing about it.The U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) slapped Breeze with two safety violations and fined the firm $9,800, which Breeze is now fighting.
Breeze is a mobbed-up firm cited in the death of a worker at Columbia University and another during a previous project. The Prospect Plaza Houses were vacated in 2001 and residents were promised that the apartments would be renovated and they could move back in in 2005. 
Breeze is a mobbed-up firm cited in the death of a worker at Columbia University and another during a previous project. The Prospect Plaza Houses were vacated in 2001 and residents were promised that the apartments would be renovated and they could move back in in 2005. 
 

As it happened, another Breeze worker had died at another Columbia U. job the prior year by falling down an empty elevator shaft. OSHA hit Breeze with $2,250 in fines, which the company settled for $1,688.
Despite the mob ties and safety violations, HPD in December chose Breeze over four other bidders. The city is obligated choose the "lowest responsible bidder," and HPD spokesman Eric Bederman noted that as with the Shea Stadium job Breeze must hire an anti-corruption monitor who will report directly to the city Department of Investigation, and retain an on-site safety inspector.
"By its nature a demolition project of this size and complexity requires the approval of numerous city agencies as part of a comprehensive monitoring effort. Given the demands of the job and City's concerns, we are requiring the contractor to submit to multiple layers of oversight to ensure compliance with all City, State and Federal labor practices, the safety of the workers and public, and the integrity of its business operations."

Bederman noted Breeze's bids "were substantially lower than the next lowest bidder, offering the City the opportunity to save millions of taxpayer dollars that can now be budgeted by NYCHA to aid in other priorities."
Already the job has fallen behind schedule. It was supposed to start April 15, but as of Friday the deteriorating towers remained unscathed, grass growing up through the pavement of a basketball court, a park bench outside one building scrawled with the disturbing street message, "INFESTED WITH BEDBUGS."
Meanwhile, some of the hundreds of tenants who lost their homes so many years ago wonder if they'll be allowed back in. Only 80 of the 365 units will be set aside for NYCHA residents, with the rest going to any family making $55,000 a year or less.
Last Friday, outside one of the buildings set to be demolished in the coming months, one former Prospect Plaza tenant was shocked to hear about the coming demolition crews.
"I can't believe they're tearing that down," said Shirley Ross, who was with her daughter, Latefa Lee, 13, who happened to have been born just a few weeks before the family was relocated from the towers.
"There's a lot of memories in those projects," she said. "People have been waiting a long time to come back."

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/firm-mob-ties-hired-public-housing-demolition-article-1.1348028#ixzz2Tl0Sez7b


0 comments:

Post a Comment