A city investigator, Felix R. Conde, who was once praised by the NYPD for his drug-related contributions, has been caught on video allegedly stealing cash and jewelry from the home of a deceased man. The incident has not only left the grieving niece, Elizabeth Ayala, scrambling to provide a proper burial for her uncle, William Figueroa, but has also exposed a long-standing weakness in the system that allows corrupt city officials to exploit the property of the deceased.
On December 5, 71-year-old Figueroa passed away from a heart attack in his Belmont apartment. Ten days later, Conde, a staff investigator in the Bronx Public Administrator’s Office, was assigned to assess Figueroa’s assets. However, instead of following proper procedures, Conde was captured on Figueroa’s motion-activated surveillance cameras rummaging through his belongings and allegedly pocketing cash and jewelry.
The video footage, discovered by Ayala, shows Conde wearing an official jacket and cap, with a badge around his neck, thoroughly searching Figueroa’s home. He turned up the mattress, searched the freezer, and went through toolboxes, garment bags, and jacket pockets. Conde later admitted to taking $492 in cash, a chain, and a ring from the apartment, but Ayala believes he took more money than he confessed to.
Bronx Public Administrator Matilde Sanchez acknowledged Conde’s actions as a “screw-up” and claimed that the stolen items were eventually logged into the office’s tracking system. Conde, when contacted by The Post, denied taking anything and attributed the lack of evidence bags as the reason for not properly securing the items.
Ayala, outraged by the incident, brought the incriminating video to Sanchez’s office on January 4. Following this, Conde promptly resigned from his position. However, Figueroa’s body remains in a city morgue, with a looming deadline for burial in a mass grave on February 21.
Sanchez has vowed to reform the office’s procedures and ensure greater oversight during residence inspections by accompanying investigators herself or assigning a deputy. Ayala, on the other hand, holds Sanchez responsible for mismanagement, stating that as the unit’s leader, she should be accountable for the actions of her subordinates.
This scandal is the latest in a series of lapses within the city’s public administrator’s offices. Past incidents include employees stealing cash and valuables, as well as deficiencies in properly documenting personal property held for estates pending resolution.
The case has now been handed over to Milton Yu, Inspector General for Fiduciary Appointments in the Office of Court Administration, who has initiated an official investigation. Ayala has started a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds for a dignified funeral for Figueroa, expressing her disappointment in having to resort to begging for money when her uncle had enough funds to cover his burial expenses.