- A New York City Department of Buildings inspector has been charged with taking a $1,200 bribe in exchange for not citing a construction firm that had continued working despite a stop work order.
- Francesco Ginestri was charged Feb. 10 with solicitation and receipt of a bribe related to his agreement to ensure that the DOB would not issue a $25,000 fine in connection with the stop work order.
- Ginestri, 36, was released this week on a $150,000 bond. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment.
According to the complaint, on July 31, Ginestri re-inspected a construction site in Flushing, New York, after a stop work order was issued for safety violations earlier in the month. During a conversation with two members of the construction team there, Ginestri showed them a piece of paper with a handwritten question asking whether work had continued.
After some prompting, the individuals told Ginestri that work had continued. He told them not to worry and that they could “reach an agreement,” according to court documents.
Ginestri solicited a $1,200 cash bribe from one of the employees, the site supervisor, in exchange for agreeing to ensure that DOB would not issue a $25,000 fine to the company. The supervisor, who was promised a more lenient sentence in his own mail fraud and money laundering case for his cooperation, made a series of calls to Ginestri explicitly discussing the bribe while the feds listened in.
In August, the supervisor met Ginestri at a Queens bakery and provided him with the $1,200 bribe payment. The meeting was recorded under the supervision of federal law enforcement agents.
“As alleged, Ginestri, a buildings inspector who was entrusted with protecting public safety at city construction sites, instead exploited his position to line his pockets with a cash bribe,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Seth D. DuCharme in a statement. “This office will vigorously prosecute those who would betray their public trust for personal gain.”
The DOB regulates and promotes the safe and lawful use of nearly 1.1 million buildings and more than 45,000 active construction sites in New York City, according to the mayor's office.