A trio of Brooklyn business owners has been indicted for allegedly bribing a city official with winnings from a Super Bowl betting pool in order to get tipped off to impending inspections from the health department, prosecutors said Monday.
The three Mill Basin shopkeepers are accused offering the New York City Department of Health employee the chance to win money if he gave them a heads up before any one of their three family restaurants received the annual health inspection.
One of the owners started a text conversation with the DOH official back in January 2020, according to prosecutors, but the employee notified superiors who had an undercover investigator continue communicating with the man. The owner allegedly asked for notice before inspectors came out the restaurants owned by him, as well as his brother and cousin.
In messages reviewed by prosecutors, the owner allegedly told the undercover investigator that they sought advance notice “because we do get nervous, I’m going to admit it. We wanna get it over with because it’s kind of a little taxing for us. So, if they don’t come, then we get mad because we prepare and then we have to prepare, and so you just gotta give me the heads up.”
The ringleader shopkeeper allegedly met up with the investigator twice, following each February Super Bowl in 2020 and 2021. Prosecutors said the investigator collected $20,000 in cash between the two meetings.
"These defendants allegedly used corruption and cash to try and game the system, but instead were undone by a City Health employee who stood up for integrity and notified the Department of Investigation, according to the charges," Acting DOI Commissioner Daniel Cort said.
"I applaud the City employee who knew to do the right thing and, in so doing, protected the safety of the New Yorkers who frequent these establishments," he continued.
The trio was released without bail and is scheduled back in court on Jan. 19, 2022.