Developer Charged With Bribery of DOB Inspector

504maplest.jpgMonday was a bad day for small-time developer Vauguens Michel. When a DOB inspector checking out a construction site of Michel’s at 514 Maple Street noticed that another of his properties just five lots away had illegal excavation work going on, the 49-year-old Brooklyn resident offered $500 to try to convince the inspector not write him up. Rebuffed, Michel doubled down with an offer of $1,000. You see, sites with excavation deeper than five feet are required to have shoring and bracing. The hole at 504 Maple (at right) was between 12 and 14 feet deep. Michel may have been playing the game as he thought it was played, but this one backfired in his face. The inspector reported him immediately and the developer was arrested yesterday by the city’s Department of Investigation on charges of Bribery in the Third Degree, a class D felony, and Rewarding Official Misconduct in the Second Degree, a class E felony. In all, he could be looking at up to seven years in the clinker. Do any readers have any anecdotes of inspector bribery they’d care to share? GMAP P*Shark
Photo by Nicholas Strini for Property Shark

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  • Yeah my plumber had to give an inspector some money to get some gasline work approved. THis was some 13 years ago. And then the inspector had the nerve to write a violation on some unrealted plumbing issue in the house.

  • happens all the time

  • My GC told me he gave a plumbing inspector $50 to look the other way on a pipe that was tje wrong size.

  • He was NOT going to shore a 12 to 14 foot hole? Okay, correct me if I’m wrong all you structural engineers out there, but isn’t that how people get killed — either during the construction or when the adjacent building collapses?

    I see this guy’s incarceration as getting a deadly menace off our streets.

  • They should confiscate this guys land and give it to the adjacent property owners. The developers negligence could cause real damage to those properties.

  • I’m sure this happens all too much, but this maybe the first guy at DOB that actually had some morals. Lock the fucker underneath the jail if you ask me!

  • Gee, if NYC can propose to give cash to students who do well in public schools (you know, show up and take tests and actually do well on them), public school parents who attend PTA meetings, etc., then maybe NYC can pony up some cash awards for DOB inspectors who actually report violations!!!

    While we’re at it, how about some caseh prizes for Traffic Officers who have the lowest quotas of bogus parking ticket creations!

    My oh my, the list could go on. DOB is so over the top old, crusty, dusty and beaurocratic…and with overwhelmed resources, it’s a joke we even include them in the Building process. Of course, if the inspector’s jobs and scope of responsibilities and overall accountability for all were re-defined to actually prevent all the OBVIOUS law breaking that is rampant here, life would be much, much better.

    DOB needs a complete overhaul in my book.

    I can dream. I can vent.

    Jerry

  • Maybe the guy had morals. And maybe most of them do.
    But, even if the inspector who does take bribes, is much less likely to do so for egregious and visible and dangerous condition, which could very likely end up with publicity, scandal, etc.
    Taking $100 to overlook some (very often) inconsequential bldg reg. not likely to ever be of consequence. To do so for something that could blow up in face and there would be consequences.

  • “But, even if the inspector who does take bribes, is much less likely to do so for egregious and visible and dangerous condition, which could very likely end up with publicity, scandal, etc.”

    Anon 10:15am, WTF?

    Illegal to take bribes regardless of the amount ($100 or $1000) or the DOB or zoning violation (bad wiring or unsafe excavation).

    Don’t attempt to diminish when someone is doing something illegal. Period.

    A crime is a crime. Play the game, do the time.

    I hope DOB and DOI are able to put more of these scumbags, small fry and big time developers / builders / contractors / architects behind bars and not building (or destroying) in our fair city.

  • “Anon 10:15am, WTF?

    Illegal to take bribes regardless of the amount ($100 or $1000) or the DOB or zoning violation (bad wiring or unsafe excavation).

    Don’t attempt to diminish when someone is doing something illegal. Period.”

    The commenter at 10:15 was not condoning violating the law or even stating that certain fraudulent behavior is deserving of greater punishment (though certainly that is the case most of the time). That people are more likely to violate the law when the consequences are lower or the risk of being discovered are minimal is a logical conclusion.

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  • I’m sure this happens all too much, but this maybe the first guy at DOB that actually had some morals.

    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

    bingo! you think this guy just came up with the idea that maybe– maybe– $$$ could make DOB look the other way? the shame of it is this happens ** all the time ** & many larger developers aren’t as clumsy about it. also, once you get out of the extended “brownstone” areas of Brooklyn, by all accounts it’s like the wild west.

    Q: does the name Eduardo Gutierrez ring any bells for ya’ll?

    wwib
    http://whowalkinbrooklyn.com

  • 10:15 made a great point. This wasn’t about the inspector having morals or taking his job seriously, this is about the inspector not being stupid enough to take a bribe for something THAT risky.

  • If everyone agrees with 10:15’s POV, then we are in a sad state of affairs.

  • good to know. i’m gonna call 311 on my neighbors for not shoring up my building. i think he dug deeper than 7 feet.

  • I think 10:15’s point doesn’t make any sense here. If this guy just didn’t want to take a bribe for something that risky, then why did he report the guy for offering him a bribe? Why not just turn him down, issue the violation, and make it clear that this was just too egregious to look away. That would keep this developer in the inspector’s pocket.

    The way it happened suggests to me that the DOB inspector may actually have been taking his job seriously.

  • Does DOB Head Pat Lancaster know that most folks think this bribery still happens all the time? Does the DOB monitor Brownstoner to know that this sort of thing occurs on routine basis??

  • Does DOB Head Pat Lancaster know that most folks think this bribery still happens all the time? Does the DOB monitor Brownstoner to know that this sort of thing occurs on routine basis??

  • Back in the late ’80s (ancient history, I believe, for most people on this site), there were tales of HPD inspectors who wouldn’t retire when they were 65. The reason? Not dedication to their jobs…but because they couldn’t give up all that extra bribe income….

  • I want to know what evidence they could have other than the inspector saying it happened. Did he record the guy? was there a video camera? if they just take the word of the inspector, then they are giving them, indirectly, the power to put people away merely by lying.

  • I see most of you have not personally been down to your borough DOB. It’s changed dramaticly. DOI and DOB got rid of lots of old inspectors and some left for fear of finally getting caught.

  • Anon 6:05. Testimony is evidence.

  • The looking the other way happens all the time – this inspector should get a medal (a shame for someone to get a medal for doing their job right)
    On Waverly Ave between Park and Myrtle the developer of hideous buildings has 2 areas where they excavated and cause structural damage not to one but 2 brownstones – one of which has some kind of steel beam up it’s side and another where the damage forced the people to move out. How much they paid off the inspectors is beyond me…

  • Silly developer. Bribes should be in the form of campaign contributions.