Press Release: DA Candidate Diana Florence, Housing Advocates + NYCHA Activists host a Deep Conversation on Housing Fraud

Diana Florence

NEW YORK, NY —  Diana Florence- a candidate for Manhattan District Attorney-  hosted a conversation on Housing Fraud: Taking on Landlords and Big Real Estate with Ramona Ferreyra, NYCHA tenant activist; T. Elzora Cleveland, Community Activist; Sam J. Himmelstein, Tenant Lawyer; George Janes, Urban Planner; and Sue Susman, Tenant Activist.

To watch the full conversation: https://dianaforda.com/webinars

Florence has detailed a full proposal for a Housing Bureau, which is available on her website and discussed further in a City Limits interview. She previously published op-eds in AM New York on landlord fraud and Gotham Gazette on zoning fraud.

 

NOTES:

As a result of the pandemic, many people struggling to make rent are about to slam head on into another crisis as the NY eviction moratorium expires on January 1, 2021. But instead of simply bearing witness to the coming mass eviction, Diana Florence and community advocates are coming together to outline how prosecutors can take action against unscrupulous developers and landlords who drive people out of their homes and communities.

Florence began her career as a prosecutor 25 years ago in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, focusing on domestic violence cases, then complex frauds and corruption in the Special Prosecutions Bureau and Labor Racketeering Unit, and later becoming the head of the first of its kind Construction Fraud Task Force. She won landmark convictions against companies and individuals for defrauding 9/11 charities, corruption, domestic violence, wage theft, and deadly work conditions. She has taught trial advocacy for over two decades to lawyers in the DA’s Office and has lectured investigators and lawyers from around the world on topics ranging from inter-agency cooperation to prosecuting fraud, racketeering and workplace homicide.

As an ADA, Diana held powerful interests accountable by prosecuting developers and corrupt corporations for cheating workers and taxpayers. In an historic case against Harco Construction, she ultimately secured justice for the family of a 22 year-old construction worker, Carlos Moncayo, who was buried alive at work. Using the existing criminal law, Diana charged the corporations and site supervisors, who had been repeatedly warned of hazardous conditions, with manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide for Moncayo’s death. As a result, she drafted legislation (A10728) named after Carlos Moncayo, known as “Carlos’ Law” that would establish higher fines for corporations for endangering workers’ lives.

Diana has made prosecuting wage theft a centerpiece of her career, notably working alongside IronWorkers Local 361 to secure $6 million in stolen wages and back-pay from AGL Industries. Diana subsequently wrote a bill (A06795) with Assemblymember Catalina Cruz (D-Queens) to reclassify wage theft as the more serious crime of larceny. Other jurisdictions— like the Pittsburgh City Council and Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner— subsequently created similar prosecution models for wage theft.

Diana has worked side-by-side with community based groups, unions, workers centers, and government agencies to create an innovative prosecution model heavily rooted in broad based participation. She is also a fluent Spanish speaker.

She has previously published opinion pieces in CNN, The New York Daily News, El Diario, AM New York, and City Limits, lending her legal expertise to current issues.

 

Platform:

Diana Florence wants to make a new PACT (Power, Accountability, Community and Trust) with New York that puts people first. PACT prioritizes prosecuting “crimes of power,” being accountable and transparent about the decisions of the DA, and working side-by-side with community stakeholders.

As an ADA, Diana created an innovative model of collaborative prosecution known as co-enforcement. Co-enforcement is based on knowledge instead of assumptions. It relies on collaboration with community partners to determine what justice looks like which then drives the priorities of investigation and prosecution. It starts with working alongside advocates, labor unions, tenants, worker centers, elected officials, industry groups, community leaders — the very people who are affected by crimes of power to ascertain the needs and values of the community. Using co-enforcement, the Construction Fraud Task Force Diana led built a trusting relationship with the community it served and together achieved success.

 

Biography:

Born in Manhattan, Diana is a long-time resident of Kips Bay where she lives with her husband and two children. Diana graduated with Phi Beta Kappa honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, receiving a BA in Art History with a concentration in Spanish as well as her law degree.