NEW YORK — Seventeen city inspectors were arrested for allegedly exposing workers to a construction substance that can be deadly, and all for one motivation — cash.
"It’s about people putting their own financial gain ahead of the well-being and safety of New Yorkers," said Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon.
After two years of ground work and undercover sting operations Thursday, the Department of Investigation released their report and 17 certified asbestos inspectors were arrested.
"The going rate is between $250 and $800 per inspect," said Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark Peters. "So if you do what I think one person did, that’s a million dollars."
They worked in Queens, Staten Island and Manhattan buildings, including a hotel. In some cases they conducted no asbestos inspections at all. Other times they concealed that asbestos had been found.
A certified asbestos investigator was in Nigeria when he said he was inspecting a property on staten island," Peters said.
Now each of the defendants faces felony charges and prison.
The inspectors were often brought in to a construction site to check for existing asbestos during a key phase, right before a structure was torn down which could send asbestos into the air.
"It is dangerous when it’s dormant, but when it is in the air especially after demolition it is deadly it is toxic," McMahon said.
After fake and forged inspections, the city says the risk of asbestos exposure was of greatest concern for the construction workers who were brought in to the site after being given a false all clear.
"You are essentially allowing all these people to walk into a dangerous situation," Peters said.