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Three nabbed for bribing undercover agents: City

Jimmy Portonova, a property manager of a St. Albans...

By Betsy Scheinbart

Two southern Queens homeowners and a property manager were arrested last week for allegedly bribing undercover city Department of Housing Preservation and Development inspectors, officials said.

Jimmy Portonova, a property manager of a St. Albans two-family house; Kazi Ahmed, the owner of a Jamaica house; and Bibi Mursalim, the owner of an Ozone Park house, allegedly paid the inspectors — who were on assignment from the city Department of Investigations — to ignore serious housing code violations, said DOI Commissioner Edward Kuriansky.

All three were charged with bribery in the third degree, a felony punishable by up to seven years in prison, the DOI said.

“These arrests are part of the DOI’s ongoing effort to deter municipal corruption and should serve as a fair warning to any citizen who might even be tempted to bribe a city worker,” Kuriansky said.

In all three sting operations, housing inspectors informed the Department of Investigation of alleged bribes. The inspectors all said they refused to accept the money.

“In each case, the HPD employees who initially received the corrupt offer immediately reported it to DOI,” Kuriansky said. “Their actions are to be commended. They represent the overwhelming majority of good, honest, and decent city employees.”

Next, the inspectors, wearing concealed recording devices, were sent back to the homes to record the alleged bribery attempts.

In July 2000, Jimmy Portonova, 41, of 31 Martin Lane in Westbury, L.I. allegedly offered cash on two occasions to two inspectors if they agreed to overlook an uncapped gas line in the basement of a two-family house he manages at 116-35 198 St. in St. Albans, the department said.

When he discovered he only had $94 with him, Portonova allegedly asked the second inspector to accompany him to a nearby ATM machine, where he withdrew $200 and then allegedly handed $294 to the inspector, the DOI said.

In August 2000, Kazi Ahmed, 35, of 84-66 169 St. in Jamaica Hills, allegedly offered an inspector an envelope of money “to buy some lunch” if he would disregard an illegal basement apartment.

A second inspector was sent to the three-family dwelling Ahmed owns at 84-66 169 St. in Jamaica and was allegedly offered $180, the department said.

On Nov. 2, 2000, an inspector responded to an anonymous complaint about what was described as an illegal apartment owned by Bibi Mursalim, 40, of 107-04 103 St. in Ozone Park. Mursalim allegedly placed $200 in cash into the inspector’s hand and asked him to remove all existing violations against the two-family house.

On Dec. 15, 2000, a second inspector was sent to the home, and Mursalim allegedly offered him $200 as well, the Department of Investigation said.

The office of Queens District Attorney Richard Brown is prosecuting the cases.

Reach reporter Betsy Scheinbart by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300 Ext. 138.

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