50 arrested in New York corruption probe

By Chris Sleight11 February 2015

New York City police have arrested 50 people in connection with a two-year construction bribery investigation in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. Those arrested include building inspectors and housing officials employed by the city, along with property managers & owners, contractors & engineers and facilitators to the alleged crimes. Charges include bribery, receiving bribes, falsification of records, tampering with records and misconduct.

According to the New York Department of Investigation (DOI), the case began in 2013 as an investigation into a single Department of Buildings (DOB) inspector. It has since found evidence of some US$ 450,000 being paid in bribes involving 16 of the city’s’ DOB and Department of Housing, Preservation and Development (HPD) officials on the one side, and 22 property owners & managers, two contractors, one engineer and six go-betweens.

It is alleged by the DOI and Manhattan District Attorney’s office that the 16 city officials took bribes to waive permit requirements, clear code violations, complaints and stop work orders, including instances with safety implications. Local media reports have said some of those arrested have links to organised crime.

Payments are said to have taken the form of cash, home mortgage payments and expensive gifts including vehicles, holidays and home renovations.

DOI commissioner Mark G Peters said, “This investigation is stunning for the sheer breadth of those charged and the extent to which the corruption infested our city institutions… Most disturbingly, the illegal conduct outlines in the indictment unsealed today goes beyond all too familiar headlines of corrupt public officials and head tangible, real-world consequences.”

Mr Peters added that almost every site where bribery is suspected has been re-inspected and either brought up to code standards or shut down.

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