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"We didn't know what [the scam] was at first," says Perkins's aide Cleare. The city, not the state or feds, was in fact the first to jump into the case with a suit against FPC. "It just grew and grew," Cleare adds. " 'Family Preservation Center,' that's a hell of a name, isn't it?"
Bill de Blasio, who was HUD chief Andrew Cuomo's New York-New Jersey representative while the scam was perpetrated, but left in late 1999 to run Hillary Rodham Clinton's Senate campaign, says he understands that HUD's "first knowledge" of the scam was in the early summer of 1999.
De Blasio says HUD officials "acted very aggressively" whenever they learned of a fraud case.
Not much is immediately known about Boccagna. De Blasio says he never heard the name until the Voice asked him about it. And Boccagna is not listed as a campaign contributor to either Republicans or Democrats, according to available federal records.
Meanwhile, Perkins is irate that HUD didn't glom onto the scam sooner. "I want to know what HUD knew and when it knew it," he says.
De Blasio says he was not directly responsible for the monitoring of the program and that he and Cuomo in fact beefed up HUD's overall response to fraud cases.
"The people who did this are scum, and they need to be held accountable," says de Blasio.