Chicago Building Inspector Accused of Taking Bribes

As reported by the Chicago Tribune online:

A veteran City of Chicago building inspector was arrested today on a charge of pocketing $1,000 from a contractor who was cooperating with authorities in an ongoing bribery probe.

Jose Hernandez approved electrical wiring, plumbing and ventilation work at a single-family residence on South Throop Street even though the walls had already been covered with drywall and made a legitimate inspection impossible, authorities alleged.

(To view the complaint, click HERE)

“We welcome the results of this investigation, and as we have since the very beginning, we will continue to cooperate fully,” McCaffrey said in the written statement.

Hernandez was charged with accepting the single $1,000 payoff last August from the undisclosed contractor. But authorities alleged he solicited tens of thousands of dollars in bribes from contractors, developers and homeowners since at least 2005.

Hernandez, 46, an inspector in the city’s Department of Buildings since 1988 who makes more than $91,000 a year, was released on his own recognizance after appearing Monday in federal court. Both Hernandez and his attorney declined comment after the hearing.

Hernandez is one of more than two dozen people now charged in the Operation Crooked Code investigation of bribery in the city’s building and zoning departments. A dozen city inspectors have been implicated. The probe is a joint operation by federal authorities and city inspector general David Hoffman.

After taking the $1,000 payoff, authorities said, Hernandez was caught on an undercover recording asking if the contractor was aware of the ongoing probe that had snared a number of other city officials and contractors and developers.

Bill McCaffrey, a buildings department spokesman, said Hernandez was put on administrative leave and efforts would be made to fire him “as soon as possible.”

What does this have to do with the Olympic bid? Just a reminder of how things run in this city. Just  areminder of how corruption runs through city operations. Just a reminderabout how corruption adds costs, delays and the erosion of standards and due process. Hey, we’re all set for the billions that would flow from the games.

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