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Cornell Tech Scandal You (Almost) Never Heard About

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The Cornell Tech scandal you almost never heard about involved Floyd Young. Hired as Senior Director of Facilities Operations in 2016, before the campus opened, he disappeared, seemingly into thin air, two years later.

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

By David Stone

Roosevelt Island News

The kickback scheme…

“A Connecticut man… pleaded guilty today in connection with receiving bribes in exchange for directing contracts to favored contractors,” the U.S. Justice Dept. said on August 31st.

That man was Floyd Young, and a Cornell Tech scandal was part of the story.

Cornell Tech Task Force
Floyd Young (L) at a Cornell Tech Task Force meeting in 2016.

“Young steered contracts for construction, repair, maintenance, and other work for the collegiate institutions to favored contractors who paid him bribes.”

The scheme was simple, according to Justice. The contractors bumped up their bids by 15%, and then, turned it over to him.

But they got a little greedy, too. Sometimes, the contractors submitted fake invoices for work that never happened, and split the take with Young, down the middle.

Although it was in Massachusetts that the feds finally caught up with him, Justice cited “three collegiate institutions.”

One of them was Cornell Tech. The others were American International in Massachusetts and Sacred Heart in Connecticut. One story mentioned Cooper Union, but details are skimpy. And one of the contractors was arraigned in Florida.

The quiet Cornell Tech scandal….

“We are excited to announce that we have hired Floyd Young as Senior Director of Facilities Operations,” Cornell Tech said in July, 2016.

The campus opened a year later, and Young laid much of the groundwork. He arranged security, maintenance and a contract for the café on campus.

At a March, 2017, town hall, Young said he “…solicited bids and expects to have a contractor in place to provide the core needs of building maintenance and groundskeeping before June.”

Who knew?

In a community coalition meeting in June, he said, “…he meets weekly with Jack McManus, head of RIOC’s PSD, and his staff to coordinate security. He also has established a solid relationship with NYPD Precinct in Queens.”

Young was personable, and as editor/publisher of the Roosevelt Island Daily, I worked with him in publishing recruitment needs.

And he was in charge when we began running ads for the café @ Cornell Tech before any hint of a scandal. He treated me to a personal pizza they were promoting.

And then, suddenly, without notice, he was gone in 2018, and soon, new management swept away the entire staff he hired.

There was a resounding silence, a vacuum of information, and now, it’s clear why nobody at Cornell Tech was eager to cough up details.


The little we know about the Cornell Tech scandal…

Something stands out and bears noting.

Until Floyd Young vanished, his work was admired here, and he meshed well with the community as well as the school. He was easy to like and thoroughly professional.

So, serious contrasts sometimes ride comfortably, side by side, in the same vehicle, and there’s a note of sadness in that.

Although no details so far are available regarding whatever offenses took place on Roosevelt Island, we know that Young agreed to pay back $919,000 collected in bribes. He also faces up to five years in prison and three years of supervised release.

At 50, a talented man’s life is now in shambles.

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