Charges Loom for DOB Inspectors Accused of Taking Payoffs

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
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    Tony Soprano could have been a building inspector.

    The Manhattan District Attorney's office could announce charges as soon as tomorrow against six former building inspectors accused of taking payoffs.

    Numerous others accused of making the illegal payments - including some alleged associates of organized crime - are expected to be charged as well. Spokesmen for D.A. Robert Morgenthau, DOI Commissioner Rose Gil Hearn and the Buildings Department declined comment.

    This summer, a published report said that at least six inspectors with the Building's Department had been videotaped taking bribes at construction sites, and some were seen dealing cocaine and prescription pills, according to the New York Post.

    Some of the workers allegedly have ties to the Luchese crime family.

    "This is going to be big," their source said.

    The forthcoming arrests are the result of a two-year probe which spawned a 2007 New Jersey case involving a Luchese squad that ran a $2 billion-a-year gambling ring and supplied drugs and cellphones to Bloods members in state prisons, according to the Post.

    As the investigation sprawled across the Hudson, probers began following buildings inspectors and captured crooked workers taking $50 and $100 payoffs to ignore violations. Then, even more shocking, several inspectors reportedly were videotaped selling OxyContin, Vicodin and cocaine while on duty.

    Two inspectors are now allegedly cooperating with the investigation, sources told the Post.

    Commissioner Robert Limandri said the inspectors caught on tape have been let go.

    “The allegations are disgraceful and do not reflect the diligent work of employees at the Department of Buildings. Our inspectors are entrusted to protect the public from unsafe building conditions, and it appears that these inspectors betrayed that trust,"  Limandri said in the statement. "In June, the Department began re-inspections of all buildings associated with the inspectors in question, including visiting every site, and we expect to complete that process soon."

    Limandri also noted that the DOB recently launched a new program last month that would track the location of every inspector with global-positioning systems.

    While the GPS wouldn't specifically prevent the kind of corruption that is alleged to have occurred in this latest case, Limandri said they "expect this new tracking system will act as a deterrent and hold inspectors accountable for their work."