NEW YORK CITY — A convicted con-man who served three years in prison for passing bad checks and ripping off banks got lucrative city contracts to fix up parks without anyone bothering to look into his background.
He then allegedly stiffed his workers out of $50,000, DNAinfo.com New York has learned.
Nicholas Analitis, 35, of Garden City, virtually walked out of state prison in 2009 and applied for — and received — contracts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Parks Department, for which he worked for the past two years.
He was arrested a few weeks ago for paying his workers at a Harlem site with $50,000 worth of rubber checks, court documents show
“There was no background check done,” a law enforcement source said. “There is a sizable flaw in the way the city does its business.”
The city’s Procurement Policy Board requires a contracting agency — in this case the Parks Department — to scrutinize the companies they hire. But the PPB’s protocols do not explicitly insist on background checks for contractors.
In November 2010, Analitis, fresh out of state prison, created a new company and officially applied for work with the city.
As required, he filled out a detailed Vendex questionnaire provided by the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services. The Vendex system was created years ago to weed out businesses linked to criminals or organized crime from getting taxpayer-funded projects.
For contracts under $250,000, the city requires the principal contrator to undergo background checks, but their sub-contractors, regardless of the dollar size of their work, do not. And any criminal checks are left to the whim of the agency for whom they are doing the work.
"There are no teeth," the law enforcement source said.
Analitis took advantage of this loophole and conveniently failed to mention that he had a history of fraud and prison time. As a result, sources said he was soon hired as a sub-contractor on two worksites, one in Marcus Garvey park in Harlem and another repairing the Coney Island boardwalk.
“Who knows how many more criminals are working for the city when they should not?” the law enforcement source said.
According to court records, Analitis had been arrested several times dating back to at least 2007 for swindling banks and businesses out of roughly $500,000 by passing bad checks and setting up phony businesses on Long Island.
In July 2007, he was arrested for forging a home improvement license to obtain a work permit, stealing a customer’s identity and then taking $121,023 from a bank where he established an account in their name, court records showed.
He also ripped off $78,728 by passing bad checks against another bogus business account he opened, according to a spokesman for Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice.
In all, Analitis spent nearly three years in prison from May 2007 to July 2009, according to corrections officials. Within a month of his release, he created Prestige Builder and Development Ltd., using an address on a Long Island Expressway service road in Syosset, court records show.
About a year later, he applied for work with the city and soon was hired by the Parks Department as a sub-contractor.
Several of his victims, most of them immigrants afraid to speak up, finally mustered the courage to complain to authorities. One of them ultimately wore a wire when he met Analitis about his money.
On the tape, Analitis tells the worker he's angry that there was word on the street that he had been short-changing his employees and tries to intimidate him.
“I’m telling you now,” an irate Analitis said on a court transcript of the recording. “I’ve been through this before. ....I’ve been through this s--t a hundred f--ing times.
“I’ve been through the nice guy thing a hundred f-----g times with people, and you know what I get? I get f---g detectives calling me, saying f----g nonsense."
Even as Analitis came under investigation in Manhattan, he was arrested again in Nassau County last March, allegedly for passing more bad checks — and was held in the county lockup for three months.
Finally, on Sept. 10, Analitis was arrested by the Manhattan DA’s office and the city’s Department of Investigation on charges of fraud in connection with the Harlem rip-off, according to court records. He was freed on $50,000 bail.
But 10 days later, he was picked up yet again in Nassau for scamming $22,750 from a check cashing establishment in Baldwin where he set up another phony company.
The Mayor’s Office of Contract Service steered inquiries to the Parks Department, which did not return calls and email requests for comment.
Meanwhile, Analitis is due back in Manhattan court next Tuesday. And he is slated to be sentenced in December in Nassau County for his latest crimes on Long Island.
Editor's Note: The orginal version of this story cited a city official who said there were no automatic background checks on contracts less than $100,000. He subsequently clarified and claimed the city only did background checks on principal contractors holding contracts in excess of $250,000. In fact, the city does not do background checks on sub-contractors, regardless of the amount of their contract.