Intentionally misrepresenting information on documents filed with the City is a crime that DOI consistently exposes. The concern raised by this type of corruption is that City officials rely on this information to determine if construction plans are safe, individuals meet the requirements to vend on a City street or City employees should receive required sick and/or medical leave. Falsifying information can result in an array of problems, including loss of taxpayer funds, potential safety issues with a construction site or unqualified individuals receiving a license. Below are some recent examples of DOI false filing investigations:
- In March 2008, Edward J. Marquette, a DOB Inspector assigned to DOB’s Division of Cranes and Derricks, is arrested on charges of making a false entry in his Inspector’s Route Sheet for March 4, 2008, falsely indicating that he performed an inspection of the crane located at 303 East 51st Street, Manhattan. On March 15, 2008, this crane collapsed causing the death of seven individuals. DOB confirmed that an inspection of the crane did take place on March 14, 2008, the day before the collapse.
- In January 2008, a New Jersey-based plumber was charged with submitting a bill totaling $4,675 to the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”) for inspections he did not perform. The plumber was also charged with submitting 17 falsified inspection reports that stated he conducted “backflow preventer” tests for the DEP, which is an annual test required by the DEP that tests the valves at DEP facilities that prevent fresh drinking water from being contaminated with wastewater. A corruption prevention lecture conducted by DOI in 2007 spurred DEP to contact DOI about this matter.
- In November 2008, the operator of a Brooklyn lab was arrested on charges that he falsely reported to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (“DOHMH”) that a licensed physician was overseeing the lab’s handling of radioactive testing materials. In addition, he was charged with acquiring radioactive materials for the lab in violation of an order of the City Health Commissioner.
- False filings can also directly affect members of the public, as it did in a 2008 DOI investigation in which a man was arrested for stealing a $300,000 Brooklyn home by filing a bogus deed with the City Department of Finance (“DOF”), which gave him ownership of a house and land in Brooklyn. The true owner of the property contacted DOI, which initiated an investigation.
- A lead risk assessor and certified air asbestos air sampling technician pleaded guilty to falsifying hundreds of lead and asbestos inspection reports filed with the City. DOI investigators deftly tracked down the defendant’s false reports filed with several City agencies. The investigation is a testament to the benefits of cooperation among our federal and City partners, and the importance of having DOI as the City’s anti-corruption agency since this investigation began with the City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene notifying DOI about suspicions they had regarding the defendant’s reports. In December 2010, the defendant was sentenced to 63 months in federal prison.