NBC 4 bills this as a photo from this morning of cash changing hands — literally — between an FBI agent and a Los Angeles city building inspector. Two senior building inspectors were arrested this morning for allegedly accepting bribes to sign off on building permits without inspections. Raoul Joseph Germain, 59, of Altadena, was arraigned in federal court and released on $100,000 bail. U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles F. Eick denied bail to Hugo Joel Gonzales, 49, of Eagle Rock. From NBC 4's website:
The arrests stem from an eight-month undercover investigation conducted by the U .S . Attorney’s Public Corruption division and the FBI.
The U.S. Attorney’s office received a tip from an informant that on at least 40 occasions he had bribed two senior inspectors with the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety. The bribes included cash, vacations and home improvement projects, according to a source who spoke to NBC LA.
Channel 4 has a photo gallery up from this morning's FBI sting. The city's Department of Building and Safety issued a statement this afternoon, quoted from after the jump, and also says that the two inspectors were placed on administrative leave on Feb. 25.
n early January 2011, the Department of Building and Safety received an anonymous letter alleging criminal misconduct on the part of at least two inspectors.
Immediately, Inspection managers began a preliminary investigation of 53 sample projects involving such things as approvals without physical inspections. Based upon consultation with the City Attorney enough preliminary evidence was found to place the employees on administrative leave effective February 28, 2011 pending due process for disciplinary action. The inspectors placed on administrative leave surrendered their badges, computers and were directed to remain at their homes during work hours.
Subsequently, the City Attorney’s Office advised the Department of Building and Safety to continue with the administrative process and has also referred the matter to the City Attorney’s Criminal Division. Approximately two weeks ago, the Department was advised that the Criminal Division had referred the matter to LAPD.
All of the Department of Building and Safety’s actions were taken prior to any knowledge of FBI involvement.