Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity to Hold Inaugural Conference

Launched in August, the Center Offers Tools and Resources for Governments Fighting Corruption, Advances Scholarship on Public Integrity Issues, and Connects a Vibrant Community of Leaders in the Field.

New York, May 21, 2014—Experts from federal, state, and local law enforcement and government will gather at Columbia Law School on May 30 for the Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity’s inaugural conference, which is designed to offer practical skills to practitioners combating corruption.

The conference, “Busting Graft and Boosting Budgets: How Oversight Authorities Can Expand Their Arsenals Through Asset Forfeiture and Other Tools,” is co-sponsored by the Association of Inspectors General. It will feature expert presentations and panel discussions designed to educate state and local law enforcement officials and inspectors general about the benefits of asset forfeiture, which is the process prosecutors use to confiscate profits from crimes. Under the Department of Justice’s Equitable Sharing Program, local partners can reap a percentage of the funds recovered from crimes if they participate in an investigation or prosecution.

“One of the Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity’s primary goals is to expand the tool kits of people who are fighting corruption,” said Jennifer G. Rodgers, a former federal prosecutor in the Southern District of New York who serves as the center’s executive director “Given that one of the most underutilized tools out there is asset forfeiture, this conference is designed in large part to educate state and local officials about that process.”
Another panel at the conference will be devoted to the CityTime prosecution, which resulted in 20-year prison sentences for three men who defrauded New York City in connection with a payroll modernization project. The original cost of the project was $63 million but the primary contractor on the job was paid about $700 million in a kickback and money-laundering scheme. The city recovered $500 million in the case, which was initiated by the New York City Department of Investigation (DOI), Columbia Law School’s partner in the Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity. DOI received $40 million in the asset forfeiture process from the CityTime case.
“The CityTime case is a prime example of how law enforcement agencies can recover significant funds in cooperative prosecutions,” Rodgers said. “That money can then be used in a variety of ways to strengthen the oversight agency’s ability to prevent, detect, and deter corruption.”
The Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity was launched in August to: 
  • study corruption and accountability at the municipal level around the world;
  • build and support a vibrant community of leaders in the public integrity field through the center’s website and by hosting public and private events;
  • develop tools and resources to help governments fight corruption; and
  • advance research and scholarship on important public integrity issues 
Columbia Law School professors Richard Briffault and Daniel C. Richman, leading experts in the field, serve on the center’s advisory board, which is chaired by former DOI Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn.