So, here in the Bay Area (San Francisco), for a very long time, there’s been the pretty clear understanding that envelopes with cash “gifts” and free renovations for inspectors and permit officials were required to get any business done…
Not that everyone liked it; but it suited those in the know just fine and even though the FBI had previously taken several stabs at the problem, they had never been able to get to the heart of it…Until today, when the presence of a clean mayor (Gavin Newsom) seems to have broken the log jam….
Permit official faces bribery charges
District attorney, FBI probe S.F. building department
– Susan Sward and Jaxon Vanderbeken, Chronicle Staff Writers
Friday, August 5, 2005
Federal agents and district attorney’s investigators descended on San Francisco’s controversy-plagued building department Thursday and led away a long-time city employee in handcuffs after arresting him on felony bribery charges.
Augustine Fallay, head of the Department of Building Inspection’s one-stop permit program, faces 10 counts of bribery and three counts of perjury resulting from an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the San Francisco district attorney’s office.
Fallay, 47, had worked for years as an official in the planning department before transferring to Building Inspection in 2001. There he had been manager of the 10-member one-stop permit unit, which put reviews of complex construction projects on a fast track.
He was arrested after FBI agents, dressed in blue raid jackets bearing their agency’s logo, and investigators from District Attorney Kamala Harris’ office arrived mid-morning at the building department’s Mission Street offices to cart off boxes of documents.
The charges filed by the district attorney allege that Fallay took bribes over a 12-year period, including a $50,000 loan, payments of cash “in approximately four separate red-colored envelopes” and services for improvements on a kitchen, a bathroom and an entryway of his private home.
“This is bribery, the worst form of corruption that exists,” Harris told reporters.
So, how dirty is your local building permit office? And is this the way that things operate all around the country?
Edited 8/5/2005 2:01 am ET by NotaClue