Many people’s lives were put at risk so a greedy few could financially benefit. Now fifty people including New York City building inspectors, property managers and owners, “expediters,” contractors and an engineer are under arrest. They were charged with corruption. Allegedly, they received bribe money to overlook code violations and speed construction developments to completion, said the New York Daily News (2.10.15).
With all the construction going on in New York City, this type of conduct cannot be tolerated.
The arrests came at the end of a two-year investigation. In addition to the arrests, authorities concluded that 156 buildings in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens needed to be rechecked for safety because the inspections on them were either not conducted correctly, or not done at all. Inspectors took money from builders and property managers in order to circumvent the inspection process, reported the New York Daily News.
All 50 people were charged with felonies. The most serious charges carry a penalty of up to 15 years in prison. Chief construction inspectors for Manhattan and Brooklyn were among those indicted, reported Reuters (2.10.15).
In one case, said Reuters, an expediter paid the city’s chief of development for Brooklyn construction over $200,000 in bribes. Expediters are hired by developers and property owners to make sure work can be completed without interference from the city.
In other schemes, prosecutors said inspectors at the city’s Housing Preservation & Development agency took bribes to delete records of safety problems and other violations that may prevent a landlord from selling a property. In return for bribes, officials also made fraudulent vacate orders to help landlords evict tenants they wanted to replace with higher-paying tenants. Also accepting bribes were Housing Preservation and Development inspectors who were supposed to make sure landlords maintain safe conditions for tenants.
On the website for the Department of Buildings, it clearly states that the department is committed “to promoting safe and compliant construction and improving quality of life for all New Yorkers.” It is extremely disappointing to know that so many people were not doing the jobs they were trusted to do. Safety was sacrificed for profit.
According to the New York Daily News, there are currently 185 inspectors, 169 associate inspectors, and 49 administrative inspectors working at the buildings department.
About $33 billion was spent on construction in the city in 2014, according to a report by the New York Building Congress.
The Reuters story cited is “NYC building inspectors charged with ignoring safety for bribes.”
The New York Daily News story cited is “NYC building inspectors, contractors surrender to authorities over $450K bribery scheme.”