Justice was a longtime coming for the residents of the 2,700-unit Lindsay Park apartments.
For a decade-and-a-half, Cora Austin took kickbacks from contractors hired to do work in apartments, while the buildings fell into a state of total disrepair and the co-op racked up massive debt.
Corruption at the city's cooperative apartments, an innovative idea that allowed the middle-class to enter the realm of home ownership, is far too easy to get away with.
Disinterested apartment owners, or shareholders, rarely care to be bothered with all of the minutiae of running the corporation, generally leaving that task to the board, which more often than not consists of one or two people who actually take an active interest.
If those folks are dishonest, it's far too easy to use the corporation for their own personal gain, as the board is usually stacked with people they have handpicked to serve and there is almost no oversight on the part of the state or city.
However, that's not exactly what happened at Lindsay Park. For nearly all of Austin's tenure as president, a group of concerned residents filed complaints with the city's Housing and Preservation Development (HPD) agency that something stunk in Lindsay Park.
Their maintenance fees were constantly on the rise – a not insignificant fact considering Lindsay Park is a Mitchell-Lama development and caters to middle-income households on tight budgets – while the elevators failed, building facades crumbled, and oil tanks leaked.
Meanwhile, Austin was receiving kickbacks from contractors who were hired to do one or two repairs in apartments, only to pad the job with unnecessary work and higher bills, giving some of the extra money back to Austin.
But HPD did little to address the situation, and residents were finally forced to turn to former Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson to shine a light on what was transpiring at Lindsay Park.
In this case, as Lindsay Park is a Mitchell-Lama development and subject to stricter oversight, there was actually a level of governance that should have been in place, but the city failed to take action.
However, there is very little recourse for residents in regular co-ops who find themselves at the mercy of a corrupt board.
Either the state Attorney General, which is responsible for ratifying articles of incorporation, or HPD needs a dedicated staff to investigate complaints of mismanagement and corruption in the city's co-ops.
If they don't, one of the city's last options for affordable middle-class home ownership could be at stake.