Former building inspectors arrested in Mafia bribery case

By Chris Sleight05 October 2009

Six former New York, US building inspectors have been arrested for accepting bribes on behalf of the notorious Lucchese organised crime family. The charges followed a two-year investigation that the New York District Attorney also said uncovered evidence of extortion, drug & gun trafficking and illegal gambling by three of the defendants.

Three of the accused, Frank Francomano, Carmine Francomano and Thomas Masucci are thought to be members of the Lucchese family used their positions as Department of Buildings (DOB) inspectors to solicit bribes from builders and property owners. They are also accused of other organised crime activities.

Both Frank and Carmine Francomano resigned form the DOB in June this year. Mr Masucci was fired from the Department in November 2007 for soliciting private construction work from people and companies he was inspecting in his capacity at the DOB.

The three other defendants are Earl Prentice, Angel Luis Aviles and Exel Plass. The first two worked for the DOB from the mid-1980s until resigning earlier this year. Mr Plass worked for the DOB from September 2004 until his resignation in September this year.

The charges against the six defendants list 19 addresses in New York where the District Attorney says bribes were paid in relation to construction projects.

In total, the New York District Attorney has announced charges against 29 people and four companies thought to be involved in the schemes. They are thought to have solicited some US$ 120000 in bribes, and profits from other illegal activities are thought to be in excess of US$ 410 million.

City commissioner of New York's Department of Investigation, Rose Gill Hearn said, "This indictment reflects the insidious effects of racketeering in the City's construction industry, especially when it involves Buildings employees who choose greed and a criminal life over serving the public good. These former City Buildings Inspectors are charged with manipulating their authority to perpetrate a criminal scheme solely to generate personal profit."

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