The Joint Commission on Public Ethics (“Commission”) today announced that it has reached an agreement with a former employee of Health Research, Inc. (“HRI”), a not-for-profit corporation closely affiliated with the New York State Department of Health, to settle allegations of Public Officers Law violations related to conduct occurring during a state construction project.
In the settlement, Anthony Ahanj, the former director of Capital Planning for HRI, admitted that while overseeing the construction and renovation of the St. Albans Veterans’ Home in Queens, he personally accepted $14,000 from a subcontractor on the project. Ahanj further admitted he had used his official position to recommend that subcontractor, Paula Gretzinger, to whom he had previously loaned money, be hired to prepare federal grant applications. Gretzinger paid Ahanj shortly after receiving $30,000 from the prime contractor to write those grants. However, the State, acting through the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, declined to reimburse the contractor for its use of Gretzinger.
As part of the settlement with the Commission, Ahanj, who retired from HRI in 2016, agreed to pay $4,000 for violating the Public Officers Law by using or attempting to use his official position to secure unwarranted privileges or exemptions for himself or others. The fine was determined based on a financial affidavit submitted by Ahanj regarding his limited financial assets.
The Commission began its investigation following a referral from the New York State Office of the Inspector General.