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Second L.A. building inspector pleads guilty in federal bribery probe

May 23, 2011 |  3:32 pm

A second Los Angeles city building inspector caught up in a federal probe of bribery in the building department formally admitted his guilt Monday.

Hugo Joel Gonzalez, 49, of Eagle Rock pleaded guilty to a charge of soliciting and accepting bribes.

Over the course of an FBI investigation that spanned several months last year, Gonzalez accepted $9,000 in cash and wire transfers to his bank account from an FBI informant and an undercover agent.

In exchange, he approved permits for properties he had never inspected and, in some cases, never set foot on, according to court documents.

In at least one case, he asked for $500 to pay "tribute" to another inspector so he could inspect a property outside his area of responsibility, along with a $2,000 bribe for himself.

Another building inspector who was arrested as a result of the same investigation, Raoul Germain, 60, of Altadena entered a guilty plea to the same charge earlier this month.

Both inspectors have been fired.

The FBI informant, who worked for a residential developer with many projects in South Los Angeles, called the problem of bribery in the building department "systemic," according to an affidavit filed in the case.

The Department of Building and Safety has received three subpoenas from a federal grand jury, including one seeking personnel records for at least 11 current and former employees.

Assistant U.S. Atty. Joe Akrotirianakis declined to comment on whether more arrests will be coming.

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-- Abby Sewell

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