City inspector pleads guilty to taking bribes from an asbestos abatement contractor for decade

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A 64-year-old inspector with the city’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for nearly 30 years on the job pleaded guilty to taking bribes from an asbestos abatement contractor.

Queens resident Samuel Nebedum admitted he intentionally ignored violations at the contractor’s worksites in exchange for cash bribes totaling $10,000, meals and fish.

According to the felony complaint filed in December 2018 at Queens County Supreme Court in Jamaica, Nebedum took the bribes over a 10-year period in exchange for overlooking violations of standard abatement procedures such as the removal of materials that contained asbestos. He also gave the contractor advance notice of DEP inspections and referred outside jobs.

Nebedum was arrested and charged following a joint investigation by the state Attorney General’s Office and the city’s Department of Investigation. The DEP is responsible for the asbestos abatement industry requiring all workers at job sits to wear protective masks and hazmat suit; wetting down all asbestos containing material when removed, so as to prevent asbestos from becoming airborne; and setting up a proper decontamination unit with proper air-monitoring equipment.

The joint investigation alleged that Nebedum ignored these regulations while he was accepting the bribes putting the health of workers and city residents at risk. Asbestos is a natural occurring mineral that is hazardous to human health and is known to cause a type of cancer known as mesothelioma.

“By accepting bribes, Samuel Nebedum violated public trust and put the health and safety of New Yorkers at risk,” Attorney General Letitia James said. “New Yorkers deserve to be able to trust the integrity of their officials. My office will continue to hold accountable those who disregard the interests of the public in favor of financial gain.”

Nebedum pleaded guilty to multiple charges. He was sentenced to a conditional discharge and must pay $15,000, $5,000 of which must be paid by July 15.

“Today’s guilty plea sends the message that a city inspector, entrusted with safeguarding the public, will be held accountable and prosecuted when he trades in his integrity for bribes,” DOI Commissioner Margaret Garnett said. “This defendant is now a convicted felon who no longer works for the city. DOI will continue to work with partners, in particular the state attorney general, to expose and prosecute corruption in this city.”

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