A series of redacted documents submitted for the Department of Investigations’s probe into the sale of Rivington House may hold the key to just how in the know the city was in the deed-lifting scandal. On Tuesday, the DOI released information pointing to city hall’s role in deliberately obscuring its involvement, the Daily News reports.
An earlier investigation into the sale and subsequent report issued by the DOI was built despite the city’s Law Department’s role in obscuring key documents and lack of cooperation. Now, the DOI has threatened to sue Corporation Counsel Zachary Carter to gain access to the mayor’s computer—formerly withheld—and the full documents Carter had redacted during the investigation. Carter relented on Friday, forking over the requested documents and later granting access to the DOI to de Blasio’s computer.
One of the pieces of evidence concerning the city’s involvement uncovered by the DOI in the unredacted documents is a memo dated July 2014 discussing the possibility of the nursing home’s conversion into condos, and noting a briefing on the matter with first deputy mayor Anthony Shorris.
The extent of Shorris’s role in the scandal is murky. The DOI investigation initially found that while Shorris was aware of the potential deed lifting, he experienced a change of heart that led to him calling for the nursing home to remain just that. That decision was never passed on, becoming moot.
Carter also withheld information about the lifting of another controversial deed restriction in Harlem. The documents uncovered by the DOI detail the sale of the restricted-use parcel to a de Blasio donor who sought to build condos on the site.
Under executive order by the mayor, the Department of Investigations is supposed to have full and unrestricted access to the city’s internal documents, emails, and computers. After Carter relented and provided access to the mayor’s computer, DOI Commissioner Mark Peters issued a cheeky statement that he was "pleased that the Law Department decided to comply with the law."