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Ex-Co-op City Board President Gets 6 Months in Jail for Bribery

Iris Herskowitz Baez, Former Co-op City Board President Going to Jail for BriberyFormer Co-op City Board President Iris Herskowitz Baez was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Sullivan to six months in federal prison, followed by a one year of supervised release, for taking a $10,000 bribe steering the co-op’s $3.5 million painting contract painting a Co-Op City painting contract to Bronx-based Stadium Painting.

Ignoring one of the Ten Commandments of serving on a Co-op Board — Thou shalt not steal! — Baez was indicted by a federal grand jury last year on charges that she accepted $100,000 in bribes (ten times the amount to which she factually actually plead guilty to taking) out of the $3,500,000 contract.

Co-op City is the world’s largest co-op, with 15,372 residential apartments in thirty-five high-rise buildings and seven townhouse clusters.

Nearly twelve years ago, the New York Times reported that the State was investigating Co-op City for the same kind of shenanigans. At that time,

board president, Gretchen B. Hazell, face[d] the voters in the complex’s elections, [and found] herself the target of two state investigations probing the firing of the managers and the distribution of some of the contracts.

Guess who the Board’s vice president was at then? Iris Herskowitz Baez!

This blog hazard’s a guess that at this year’s annual Co-op City shareholder meeting, residents will remember their convicted ex-prez with a shout out: “You go to jail, girl!”

Given that Co-op City has remained part of the Mitchell Lama system’s bastion of affordable housing for New York City’s middle class, Baez’s greed should send a strong message to co-op shareholders of every income level: cooperative board’s have a fiduciary duty to their neighbors who elect them to run their building’s affairs responsibly.

Maybe Baez will prepare for her time in prison by watching episodes of Oz!

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March 26, 2008   2 Comments