By Anna Gustafson
Bayside resident Joel Bondy was suspended last week without pay from his position as executive director of the city Office of Payroll Administration after federal prosecutors accused individuals affiliated with the agency of defrauding the city of $80 million, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and city Comptroller John Liu said.
Bondy himself has not been charged by federal prosecutors.
Bondy, 59, who lives in an upscale residential neighborhood on 215th Place in Bayside, as executive director of OPA oversaw New York’s CityTime payroll, a software system that was meant to keep track of city employees’ hours. Last week, four consultants with the CityTime project and two of their relatives were indicted on charges that they allegedly bilked the city of $80 million by steering contracts to businesses they controlled and using some of that money for themselves, federal prosecutors in Manhattan said.
Bloomberg and Liu, who together oversee the city Office of Payroll Administration, last Thursday announced Bondy’s suspension from the job that paid about $205,000 annually.
“Any violation of the public’s trust is categorically unacceptable, and we are implementing a series of changes to reform oversight of the CityTime project,” Bloomberg said in a prepared statement. “The investigation will continue, and as we learn more facts we will continue to keep the public updated. We will do everything possible to ensure any taxpayer dollars that were fraudulently distributed are recouped and that those who were complicit in attempting to scam the public face the full force of the law.”
Bondy did not return phone calls for comment.
Liu and Bloomberg also announced last Thursday they would halt all payments to Spherion, the company that paid the indicted consultants until a review of the group’s subcontracting, billing and record-keeping practices is completed.
“This further underscores the need to more closely monitor expensive outside consultant contracts,” Liu said of the charges from federal prosecutors.
A spokeswoman for Spherion, Cheryl Hilpert, said the group has been cooperating with the U.S. attorney’s investigation and “intends to continue doing so.”
“To date, we have no reason to believes that [Spherion] is itself a target of the investigation and will make any additional comments as appropriate,” Hilpert said in an e-mailed statement.
The indictment charges Mark Mazer, a consultant, led the scheme that began in 2005. According to prosecutors, Mazer landed nearly $25 million in kickbacks. Mazer and Bondy had worked as subcontractors to Spherion on the CityTime project and once Bondy began his job as the executive director, Mazer gained “direct access” to Bondy, federal prosecutors said in the indictment.
Mazer; Scott Berger, a consultant; and businessmen Dmitry Aronshtein and Victor Natanzon were charged with filing fraudulent time sheets for consulting work, the U.S. attorney said. Mazer’s wife, Svetlana Mazer, and his mother, Larisa Medzon, were also arrested and charged with allegedly laundering money, according to federal authorities.
Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4574.