Chief Judge Begins Work in His Native Bronx

A Bronx native, and the chief judge to the NYC Office of Administrative Hearings will be stepping down from his post later this month and coming back to the borough to work for a community development group.

After more than eight years as chief judge of OATH, which oversees administrative and city hearings, Roberto Velez will be joining Basics/Promesa Systems, Inc. to provide legal council and ensure that the not-for-profit agency is in compliance with all the state and federal regulations. His last day with the city will be Friday, July 2, and he officially starts at Basic/Promesa the following Monday.

“I wanted to try something new and I was recruited because they liked my background of running this administrative justice system. I have a background in management, I’ve been an attorney in a law firm for five years, so I’ve had a lot of good experience,” he said. “For me this is a wonderful way to come back to the Bronx and to give back. It’s been a wonderful place for me and this is home.”

Velez was born and raised in the south Bronx and currently lives in Riverdale. Although OATH has offices in all five boroughs, he regularly commuted to the central offices in lower Manhattan.

As the chief judge at OATH, which hears cases involving city employees, contracts and real estate issues, he oversaw an annual budget of $3.8 million and supervised eleven administrative law judges. He also chaired the environmental control board and created the Center for MediationServices, which is responsible for dealing with workplace disputes and training mangers about conflicts. In 2005 he was appointed to serve as a board member of the state Ethics Commission for the Unified Court System.

Velez said he is excited to start work in his old neighborhood with a program that provides services to the needy for everything from day-care to affordable housing to medicaid.

“I remember walking this neighborhood and it’s great,” he said. “I’m the guy making sure Promesa stays on the straight and narrow and keeps doing everything it’s supposed to be doing.”

According to Pamela Mattel, chief operating officer at Basic/Promesa, Velez was chosen to fill the newly created post because of his background and connection with the area.

“Both Hector Diaz and Millie O’Toole (top chair members) have known Roberto for many years and the excellent work he’s done as an administrative law judge for the city, so when they heard he was available they recruited him to come work for us, and we are incredibly pleased he was decided to work with us,” she said. “It’s important for people who work here to be both reflective of the community’s demographics and are committed to well-being of the community. And Roberto was born and raised her and a highly respected law judge and of Latino descent and all that is important to us.”

Reach reporter Max Mitchell at (718) 742-3394 or

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