Ayyyeee…. What’s Goodie Everyone. So I got some tea and it involves a former NYC department of homeless servicemen pleading guilty to bribery.
Victor Rivera, the founder and former chief executive of the nonprofit Bronx Parent Housing Network, admitted to accepting kickbacks from contractors working with the organization and laundering the money through entities he controlled, according to the city Department of Investigation.
As part of the plea agreement, Rivera is to face a prison sentence and, according to federal court documents, agreed to forfeit $1.2 million. Since 2017, Rivera’s organization has received more than $274 million in city funding to operate shelters.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan charged Rivera in March of 2021, saying he had used some of the money to pay the mortgage on his personal home. Rivera owned a $780,000 home with a heated swimming pool and waterfall in Stony Point, N.Y., and another house in the Poconos. Rivers was arrested weeks after a New York Times investigation last year showed he had run the group with near impunity: Ten women, including homeless women and employees, accused him of sexual assault and harassment, while Rivera also enriched himself with money meant for his nonprofit. The scheme lasted from 2013 to 2020, as Rivera rose to become a major player in the city’s massive social safety net. In public, he frequently invoked a compelling personal story: He said he grew up poor in the South Bronx, even becoming homeless for a time, and went to prison for drug possession before turning his life around. As the city money came in, Rivera’s personal fortune grew, according to The Times investigation. His salary swelled to $306,000 in 2019, and the organization also leased him a Mercedes-Benz with a custom license plate promoting his charity: BPHN ORG.
He used the nonprofit’s finances with for-profit housing companies he owned, steering lucrative contracts to friends and associates and providing jobs to several members of his family, according to the investigation.
The authorities did not specify which contractors paid Rivera off, and exactly how much money he collected or how he laundered the money. But The Times had reported that Rivera started a for-profit company in 2011, Community Outreach Consulting Firm, that provided housing for people living with H.I.V. and AIDS. Former employees of the Bronx Parent Housing Network told The Times the firm shared staff and resources with the nonprofit group. When Rivera stepped down from the consulting company in 2018, his wife, who also worked at the firm, took over.
According to The Times investigation; they found that Bronx Parent Housing Network awarded $184,000 in maintenance contracts to a friend of Rivera who had performed work at a building Rivera personally owned in the Bronx. Rivera’s organization also steered millions of dollars in rent payments to a company owned by his onetime business partner.
Rivera was ousted from his position at the Bronx Parent Housing Network after The Times story was published. Rivera had faced another criminal inquiry: The Bronx district attorney’s office opened an investigation into Rivera following allegations, reported in The Times, of a pattern of sexual misconduct, including assault.
The nonprofit organization paid a combined $175,000 in confidential settlements in 2017 and 2019 to two former employees who accused Mr. Rivera of sexual harassment and assault, records showed.