Bronx Parent Housing Network CEO Victor Rivera has been sentenced to 27 months in federal prison for pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars set apart for the city’s neediest residents, confirmed Monday.
Authorities said Victor Rivera collected the cash through bribes and kickbacks on top of his $453,000 salary during a surge of homelessness between 2013 and 2020.
The charity head handpicked and overpaid contractors at construction, security and real estate firms for projects at soup kitchens, shelters and affordable-housing facilities in exchange for some of the city cash he used to pay them.
“Victor Rivera had an opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of New Yorkers experiencing homelessness,” city Department of Investigation Commissioner Jocelyn Strauber said in a statement Monday.
“Instead, he chose to exploit the system and engineer a bribery-and-kickback scheme to benefit himself and his relatives.”
In one scheme, Rivera’s co-conspirators subleased a property controlled by the Housing Network and wrote checks for consulting fees to a company owned by Rivera’s son which Rivera then spent on himself.
“Particularly egregious” in Rivera’s backdoor dealing was that his victims were the city’s poorest, prosecutors said.
According to court filings, Rivera used some of the dirty money to pay the mortgage on his own $780,000 home in Stony Point in Rockland County.
His legal team had implored Manhattan Federal Court Judge Saul Stein to go easy on Rivera and referenced his personal experience with poverty and addiction in the early 1990s.
The feds noted Rivera’s first-hand experience proved he was keenly aware of the harm he was inflicting.
The memo by Assistant U.S. Attorney David Abramowicz reads: “Having overcome homelessness and other personal hardships … Rivera grasped the importance of BPHN’s mission as well as anyone.”
Rivera agreed to pay more than $902,000 to the Bronx nonprofit under the city’s monitorship on top of $1.2 million in forfeiture money, equal to the cash doled out to contractors who gave him kickbacks.