L.A. building inspectors facing federal bribery charges
Two Los Angeles city building inspectors are facing federal bribery charges in connection with thousands of dollars in payoffs given for approval of work at residential building sites without an inspection.
Hugo Joel Gonzalez, 49, of Eagle Rock, and Raoul Joseph Germain, 59, of Altadena, were arrested Friday morning by FBI agents and were expected to be arraigned this morning.
The FBI began a criminal investigation last summer after an informant -– a work site supervisor for a residential property developer –- tipped them off that the suspects had allegedly taken cash bribes to give permit approvals on construction projects, according to criminal complaints in the case.
Gonzalez allegedly took a total of $9,000 in bribes from an informant and undercover FBI agent, and Germain allegedly accepted $6,000, according to criminal complaints in the case. In some cases, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office, the inspectors had never even set foot on the job sites in question.
According to court documents, Germain allegedly said in a recorded conversation with an undercover agent, “I drive by every once in a while, take a look. I won’t even stop and get off.”
The Department of Building and Safety opened an investigation into possible bribe taking in January and put the two men on administrative leave on Feb. 25, agency spokesman David Lara said.
Councilwoman Jan Perry, whose district also takes in part of South Los Angeles, called the allegations “deplorable” and said the public deserves homes that are built to the highest safety standards.
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