Investigators accuse NYCHA chair of lying about lead inspections

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The chairwoman of the City Housing Authority on Wednesday denied that she lied to federal safety inspectors after an unprecedented report from the New York City Department of Investigations found NYCHA knew about false lead paint safety inspections but submitted them to federal authorities anyway.

The Department of Investigations is now demanding an outside third-party monitor, and investigators have turned over their information to federal prosecutors.

"I did not lie," NYCHA Chair Shola Olatoye said. "When I learned information, I raised my hand. I raised my hand in clear and full disclosure."

DOI Commisioner Mark Peters said there is a pattern of safety problems at NYCHA, adding he's done investigations about faulty smoke alarms, dangerous elevators, and now, the failure to adequately inspect more than 50,000 NYCHA apartments for lead paint.

"We were incredibly disturbed by these allegations," he said. "The Chair of NYCHA knew they were not in compliance with the rules and nevertheless decided to file a false certification, claiming they were in compliance."

At the Albany Houses Development in East New York, several NYCHA tenants said they were furious about the report.

"It's horrible," resident Sharena McEachern said. "We pay our rent on time. It's just sad that we have to live like this in our own apartments."

Another resident at the Albany Houses, Coretta McBean, said she's not surprised top officials submitted faulty paperwork.

"It's scary, because I know lead can do damage to children," she said. "They lie about a lot of things. They say they do work, and they didn't do any work."

Olaytoye works for Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is on vacation this week. But Olatoye said she talked with him Tuesday night.

The mayor and I have a very good relationship," she said. "I serve at his pleasure, and I will continue to do my job until something changes."

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