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A Whitestone man who owns a Maspeth business and a former city buildings inspector from Oakland Gardens were among 29 people charged in a massive sting involving the mob, the construction industry and city building inspectors, the Manhattan district attorney’s office said.
The NYPD, the DA’s office and the city Department of Inspection seized more than $430,000 in cash, gambling records, firearms and narcotics duringa series of raids last month, authorities said.
Among those charged were Costel Mirauti, 41, of Whitestone, who owns Abanno Building Maintenance in Maspeth. Mirauti was charged with bribing DOB inspectors, though Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau’s office refused to comment further on what considerations Mirauti was allegedly given.
Exel Plass, 31, of Oakland Gardens was an inspector with the city Department of Buildings’ scaffolding unit from 2004 until last month, when he resigned, the DA’s office said. He is charged with taking bribes from Lucchese organized crime family operatives in the construction and real estate industries. Plass was responsible for inspecting scaffolds in all five boroughs, authorities said. The DA’s office refused to say how much money Plass allegedly received in bribes.
Plass was one of six DOB inspectors charged in the case. Several of them, including Frank Francomano and his brother, Carmine Francomano Jr., are accused of being members of the Lucchese crime family.
Both men have been charged with enterprise corruption, a felony that carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison, the Manhattan DA’s office said.
The locations of the commercial and residential high rise buildings for which the DOB officials were allegedly bribed were all in Manhattan and the Bronx. Morgenthau’s office declined to comment on whether similar activities may have been going on in Queens.
The investigation began in September 2007, authorities said. Investigators used court-authorized wiretaps of 64 target telephones and installed a bug at a restaurant in order to record the conversations.
Agents also executed 54 search warrants at locations, including offices and workplaces of DOB employees between May 2008 and April 2009, seizing more than $430,000 in cash, gambling records, firearms and narcotics, the DA said.
“Not content with activities like narcotics sales and gambling, the Lucchese/DOB group has actually sought to place associates in a government agency and influence the routine functions of that agency,” Morgenthau said in a statement. “Obviously, we must be vigilant against such efforts at infiltration.”
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly was confident the bribery ring had not resulted in any long-term risk to the public.
“We’ve established two things since: No one’s safety has been compromised — the sites have been reinspected — and anyone compromised by the Mafia will be found out and brought to face justice,” he said in a statement.
DOB Commissioner Robert LiMandri said the DOB had just implemented a new GPS system that would constantly transmit inspectors’ positions via their work cell phones.
Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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