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50 indicted in New York building inspection scheme

According to city investigators, 50 building inspectors, including the chief construction inspectors for the boroughs of Brooklyn and Manhattan, were indicted and charged with accepting bribes in exchange for reportedly ignoring safety problems at building sites around the city. The charges came on Feb. 10 following a two-year investigation.

The inspectors were indicted in at least 26 separate alleged bribery schemes and were not charged with an overall conspiracy. The schemes were reportedly run through two different building agencies in the city. All those accused were charged with felonies carrying various potential penalties, the longest of which carries up to 15 years in prison.

One of those charged was the chief of development for Brooklyn. Along with his wife, he is accused of accepting more than $200,000 in bribes from a construction expeditor, who would in turn send out a preferred inspector to specified sites. The preferred inspector would pass the building. Other schemes involved officials at the Housing Preservation and Development agency. Inspectors there were accused of accepting bribes to erase safety violation histories to help landlords market properties. Inspectors there were also accused of issuing notices to vacate to help landlords evict lower-paying tenants so the landlords could then fill their buildings with higher-paying tenants instead.

White-collar crimes can carry stiff penalties, including the possibility of long prison sentences. The cases often involve thousands of pages of documents, including account information and other information as authorities attempt to use paper trails to establish probable cause for the alleged crimes. People who are charged with white-collar crimes may need the help of a criminal defense attorney to challenge the prosecution's case.

Source: Yahoo News, "NYC building inspectors charged with ignoring safety for bribes," Jonathan Allen, Feb. 10, 2015

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