October 2, 2009
The Manhattan District Attorney on October 1, 2009 announced the indictment and arrest of 29 people and four corporations for enterprise corruption, bribery, bribe receiving, extortion, narcotics and firearms trafficking, and illegal gambling. Among the individual defendants are members and associates of the Cosa Nostra Lucchese Organized Crime Family (“Lucchese Crime Family”), including three inspectors formerly employed by the New York City Department of Buildings and two members of the Family ruling panel; three other former building inspectors; and individuals and companies in the construction and real estate industry. The District Attorney accused the mob of seeking to place associates in a government agency and influence the routine functions of that agency.
The Mob’s infiltration to supervisory positions within the Building Department is one thing that distinguishes this construction-related corruption scandal from recent ones such as the one that resulted from the 2 crane collapses last year and the one involving fraud and fake test results against a laboratory hired to verify the strength of concrete at major New York City construction projects. Among the Building Department positions involved are building inspectors in the DOB Bronx Construction Division, the DOB Scaffolding Safety Unit, and the DOB Manhattan Construction Division, the Inspection Manager for the DOB Bronx Division, Supervising Inspector in the DOB Manhattan Construction Division, and inspector in the DOB Scaffolding Safety Unit.
The indictment is a result of a two-year investigation by the district attorney’s office and the Police Department. The investigation began in New Jersey, where agents were listening in on the phones of an alleged Luchese-run, Internet-based sports- gambling ring that authorities believe has netted $400 million for the crime family in the last two years. The investigation used wiretaps of 64 telephones, 54 search warrants and a bug hidden in a restaurant.
Building and construction site locations charged in the Indictment for which bribes were paid to defendant DOB inspectors were, in New York County: (1) 110 Fulton Street; (2) 11 West 25th Street; (3) 316 West 51st Street; (4) 75 Wall Street; (5) 414 West 14th Street; (6) 80-82 University Place; (7) 565 West 23rd Street; (8) 1 East 35th Street; and (9) 283 Amsterdam Avenue; and in Bronx County: (10) 550 East 170th Street; (11) 3305 3rd Avenue; (12) 731 Southern Boulevard; (13) 6677 Broadway; (14) 341 and 343 East 149th Street; (15) 1-5 Teddy Place, a/k/a 3250 Rawlins Avenue; (16) 2520 Park Avenue; (17) 1975 Sedgwick Avenue; (18) 323 White Plains Road; and (19) 811 Walton Avenue.
Last year’s two crane collapses in Manhattan, which killed nine people, led to investigations by Mr. Morgenthau’s office and the Department of Investigation that exposed corruption and incompetence in the building agency’s Cranes and Derricks Division. On January 5, 2009, William Rapetti, 48, and Rapetti Rigging Services Inc., a tower crane rigger and his company,were indicted on multiple charges of manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, assault, reckless endangerment and failure to file tax returns.
In the concrete-strength fraud matter, Stallone Testing Labs Inc., a laboratory hired to verify the strength of concrete at major New York City construction projects was indicted on charges that it faked test results at nearly 100 projects including the World Trade Center memorial, the new Goldman Sachs headquarters and the control tower at LaGuardia Airport. Construction projects listed in the indictment included schools, subway stations, airport facilities and office towers.
Under city building code, a lab hired for a construction project must prepare several batches of concrete and test them for load-bearing ability. DA Morgenthau said documents seized during a search warrant at Stallone’s offices showed that many tests were never performed.
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