New York City, NY

Victor Rivera, the founder of Bronx Parent Housing Network, was arrested on charges of sexual abuse and bribery

Desiree Peralta

Rivera ran the largest homeless housing network in New York for years.

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The responsible of the non-profit association Bronx Parent Housing Network (BPHN), Víctor Rivera, who coordinated a network of foster homes and who has been accused of sexual harassment, was arrested this Wednesday for "fraud and money laundering."

"Rivera, while running a nonprofit organization that operated soup kitchens, shelters for the homeless, and affordable housing facilities in New York, enriched himself through bribes and contractor commissions," said the United States Attorney's Office for the district of Manhattan in a statement.

The organization is one of the dozens of nonprofit groups that operate the city’s $2 billion systems to shelter the homeless, whose numbers have reached record levels.

According to The New York Times, Prosecutors on Wednesday said that Mr. Rivera had enriched himself for years by accepting bribes from companies doing work for his organization, according to papers filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan.

"Today's arrest should serve as a warning to any individual who looks at city coffers as a means of personal enrichment," said New York Investigation Commissioner Margaret Garnett, cited in the prosecution's note.

However, the prosecution does not cite at any time the accusations of sexual harassment made by a dozen women against the person responsible.

Last February, the mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, requested the opening of an investigation against Rivera, 61, for the complaints about alleged sexual abuse, after information published by The New York Times.

The newspaper reported that Rivera allegedly took advantage of his power and influence to sexually abuse at least 10 women, as well as to enrich himself and his family.

At the time, Rivera assured that he has always treated the women with whom he has worked "with dignity and respect" and described the accusations as "unfair and without foundation."

The cases date back to 2016 and in several of them, the alleged victims assured that they had reported their behavior to a state agency, to the hotline to report these abuses, and, at least on one occasion, to the police.

It is estimated that in New York there are more than 78,000 homeless people and, according to the Times, in 2020 alone the City Council awarded more than two billion dollars in grants to organizations that work with this marginalized group and that also help people not to lose their homes.

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