A city fire prevention inspector and a private business owner have been arrested in separate fraud cases as part of an ongoing Department of Investigation (DOI) probe into fire inspections.
“All New Yorkers rely on Fire Department employees and those they license to keep them safe,” DOI Commissioner Mark G. Peters said. “When they falsify reports and forms, they put us all in danger, and we will arrest them.”
Fire Inspector Edward A. Woychowski, 47, of Flushing, was charged with 24 counts of tampering with public records and 24 counts each of offering a false instrument for filing and falsifying business records. He has been an employee of the Fire Department of New York since March 2000.
According to the criminal complaint and investigation, Woychowski was found to have lied about his location on 18 instances in which he claimed he was performing inspections, with four of the properties located in Forest Hills.
A second, separate investigation led to the arrest of Long Island resident Alexandro Rios, 39, of Hempstead, who was charged with scheme to defraud, offering up a false instrument for filing and falsifying business records.
Rios and his company, Fire Safety Corp., were certified by FDNY to service portable fire extinguishers. Rios was not certified to inspect and clean commercial range hoods or fire extinguishing systems, nor was he authorized to perform that work for any other company.
According to authorities, Rio defrauded seven businesses in Queens and five in Brooklyn by charging for inspection, cleaning and maintenance services although he was not licensed to perform that work. He perpetrated the farce by placing tags and stickers on fire safety equipment that falsely represented that a licensed individual or company had inspected it.
“Faking fire prevention inspections or failing to inspect fire extinguishers not only compromises safety but can also jeopardize the lives of many people,” Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson said. “We will now hold these two defendants accountable for allegedly engaging in such dangerous and unlawful conduct.”