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Building inspectors from Queens among those arrested in $450K city bribery scheme

Building and housing inspectors from Queens were among the 50 suspects who were allegedly involved in slimy, widespread corruption that uncovered about $450,000 in bribes, according to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance.

The borough contributed nine of the individuals who were arrested in connection with the citywide bribery scheme to skirt city building and construction regulations.

In addition to the city agents, Queens property managers, owners and two reputed mob members were arrested on Tuesday, after a two-year-long sting, which began with an inquiry into the attempted bribery of a single Buildings Department inspector, Vance said.

“Bribery schemes compromised two important city agencies and fair competition in our robust housing and real estate development markets,” Vance said. “Today’s cases demonstrate that the same surging demand that drives the pace of development can inspire the taking of shortcuts.”

The arrested Queens members include Housing and Preservation Department inspectors Barry Rice Jr. and Steven Crawford; Department of Buildings inspector Artan Mujko; property owners and managers David Weiss, Sandro Cabrera, Frank Campasano and Aleksander Zivkovic; and brothers Agostino and Michelangelo Accardo, who have reported mob connections.

Here are the alleged roles of the Queens individuals charged in the group bust and a citywide map showing where the schemes took place:

-Queens Department of Buildings inspector Artan Mujko allegedly accepted $70,000 in bribes for “signing off” on inspections for David Weiszer, an unregistered expeditor. Weiszer would send a list of properties his clients owned to the Buildings Department chief of development for Brooklyn construction, and Mujko would inspect the properties at his chief’s request and invariably the buildings would pass inspection.

-Queens HPD inspector Barry Rice Jr., working with Brooklyn inspector Luis Soto, was allegedly bribed to order tenants to leave buildings in Bushwick without a valid vacate order.

-Frank Campasano was one of the building’s owners Rice took a bribe from.

-Rice also allegedly arranged “pre-inspections of certain properties to ensure violations on buildings would be resolved before he conducted official inspections, after which the violations would be dismissed,” the district attorney’s office said.

-Rice and Associate Housing Inspector Stanley Hall allegedly promised to dismiss violations from a Bushwick property owned by Shea Sigal for more than $3,000 in bribes.

-Rice and Steven Crawford allegedly negotiated bribes from Joel Rubin, a property manager, to “pre-inspect” and dismiss violations from properties. Rice accepted $600 in bribes from Rubin.

-Rice allegedly accepted $300 in bribes from Aron Stuhl, a property manager for “pre-inspection” violations.

-Sandro Cabrera and David Weiss were among other property owners and managers charged with allegedly offering bribes ranging from $200 to $2,800 in exchange for various Department of Buildings favors.

-Aleksander Zivkovic is among a list of property owners and managers charged with allegedly paying bribes to HPD inspectors Olive Ortiz and Luis Soto to remove building violations. The bribes totaled around $41,000 for the property owners. The violations included a rotted door frame, non-working hallway lights, and presence of mice, flies and roaches.

-Agostino Accardo, an alleged member of the Bonanno crime family, and his brother Michelangelo, were charged with operating an illegal check bundling and money transmission service. It was not clear exactly what role they played in the corruption probe.

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