New York metro property consultant’s claims against state higher education agency under investigation
NEW YORK (AP) A New York property consultant who says he helped oversee the redevelopment of a New York City public school is under investigation by the state’s attorney general for allegedly using his influence to influence the process, and the office of state education commissioner has called the allegations “unfounded.”
The attorney general’s office said Friday it was seeking documents and other information related to the consultant, Joseph D’Agostino, and was seeking to subpoena him for records and testimony.
State education commissioner MaryEllen Elia said in a statement that the attorney general is reviewing the allegations and is “committed to the rule of law and protecting New Yorkers against those who would exploit the trust that has been placed in us by our students and the taxpayers of New York.”
She said the state has been working with New York’s Office of Special Counsel on the matter, which also includes the state attorney general.
D’Agustino has been accused of using his position to push for a “substantial” return of the school to the private ownership of a group of developers and investors.
The school is part of the state school district.
The investors have been given 10 years to sell the property, but the state and the city of New Mexico have been unable to agree on an agreement, and they are seeking a court order to prevent the sale.
The attorney is not involved in the development of the public school, said Elia.
She said that D’AGOSTINO, who is married and has two adult children, was also involved in a deal to sell school land to the state.
In a lawsuit filed in December against the New York State Education Department, the school district said the D’Anstas had been given more than $3 million to redevelop the school and the school board’s board of trustees had been made privy to the sale, but none of those gifts or payments had been returned.
The lawsuit alleged that the D’s did not disclose the gifts or the sale of the property to the board of directors and board members, and that the school’s administrators had been paid for travel expenses and lodging by the D&T Group, a private equity firm.
In an interview with The Associated Press, D’Alstas said he did not know about the school sale.
He also said he would have been aware of the board’s agreement to sell only if he had been told of it.
D&=lt is one of several private equity firms involved in buying the school.
The group has said it plans to make a profit on the land and that it would use the proceeds to renovate the building.