The accused mastermind of an $80 million taxpayer ripoff was twice probed for fraud and sued for sexual harassment when he worked for the city, a Daily News investigation found.
Despite his checkered history, Mark Mazer was hired as a highly paid consultant on the sprawling CityTime project - a job prosecutors said allowed him to orchestrate the massive scam.
His lawyer, Gerald Shargel, declined to discuss Mazer's past. "I refuse to have mini-trials in the press," he said. "I'll just wait for my day in court."
Mazer started working for the city in 1985 as a $20,511-a-year office associate and rose to be a computer specialist earning $84,463 a year.
A News examination of his tenure until 2000 found:
* The former Child Welfare Administration cut his pay after he was eyed in an FBI probe into missing millions.
The FBI and the city Department of Investigation looked at Mazer in 1994, when allegations surfaced about a unit under his supervision that issued foster-care checks without backup documentation, two sources familiar with the investigation said.
One ex-colleague told The News that the FBI and the city Department of Investigation questioned him in July 1994 about Mazer and a missing $2 million.
"They wanted to know what I knew about Mazer," the source said. "They were the ones raising the issue. ... They were looking to see if he's lining his pockets."
The source said Mazer was pulled off that job and barred from the room where checks were written. Mazer was not charged, and the case was closed in March 1995. A month later, Mazer's pay as an associate staff analyst was cut from $43,925 to $34,537, records show.
The Justice Department sued the city over the lack of documentation for the federally funded foster-care payments. The city settled for $49 million.
# Two of Mazer's subordinates, Lillybeth Rivera and Sara Lyman, filed sex-harassment suits against him and the city in 1995 and 1996, respectively.
Rivera claimed that when she worked for Mazer at the Human Resources Administration from 1989 to 1992, he rubbed his body against her, made repeated sexual comments and showed her nude photos in Playboy.
"Pointing to explicit pictures in this magazine, Mazer lewdly ... compared her body to those of the naked woman in the pictures," Rivera's complaint charged.
She said Mazer made "repeated threats" after learning she'd filed a complaint, including "pointing his hand at her when it was fashioned in the shape of a gun."
The city paid Rivera $185,000 and Lyman, another HRA subordinate, $75,000. Mazer sued the city for $2 million over its refusal to represent him. He won $11,970 for lawyer's fees.
# In 1998, Mazer was questioned about stolen city laptops at the Administration for Children's Services during a DOI investigation, two sources said. He was not charged.
In November 1999, Mazer was arrested on petty larceny charges on Long Island, where he has homes. The case was sealed, and its details were unavailable. But records show he pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and left city government in November 2000. Sources say he was told to leave.
Mazer's supervisor at ACS was Joel Bondy, who later became the head of the Office of Payroll Administration, which oversaw CityTime.
By 2005, Mazer was approved as a subcontractor to work on CityTime, supervising vendors implementing a complex computerized payroll system and reporting directly to Bondy, prosecutors say.
In that role, prosecutors say, he ran a scam that inflated consultant pay and collected $25 million in kickbacks.
Bondy, who has been suspended without pay, did not return calls for comment left at his home.
And this was the guy that the city put in charge of watching over the CityTime project.
Heckuva job, Mike!!!!