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FORMER L.A. CITY BUILDING INSPECTOR SENTENCED TO 21 MONTHS IN PRISON ON FEDERAL BRIBERY CHARGES

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 16, 2011

LOS ANGELES – An Altadena man who worked as an inspector for the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety was sentenced this afternoon to 21 months in federal prison for taking thousands of dollars bribes.

Raoul Joseph Germain, 60, was sentenced by United States District Judge Christina A. Snyder.

Germain pleaded guilty on May 5 to a federal bribery charge, admitting that he took thousands of dollars in bribes to approve work done at residential construction sites in South Los Angeles, even though he had not inspected the work and, in some cases, had never been to the job site. Germain accepted $6,000 in bribes from an undercover FBI agent, and this afternoon Judge Snyder ordered Germain to pay $6,000 in restitution to the FBI.

“Corruption at any and all levels of government is simply intolerable,” said United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. “In this case, a government employee betrayed the public trust and threatened an important public safety mission for his personal financial gain.”

According to court documents, in the summer of 2010, the FBI began an undercover investigation after an informant reported that City of Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety inspectors took cash bribes in exchange for necessary permit approvals on residential construction projects. The informant, who is described in court documents as a work site supervisor for a residential property developer, reported that building inspectors, including Germain, accepted bribe payments at the initial inspection stage of construction at residential properties and that the bribes covered all necessary construction inspections related to that property, up to and including final inspection.

During a conversation recorded during the undercover investigation, Germain told the undercover agent: “I drive by every once in a while, take a look, I won’t even stop and get off.” In a plea agreement filed in United States District Court, Germain admitted that he took four $1,500 bribe payments in exchange for signing inspection forms for four houses, even though he never set foot on two of the properties.

“The residents of Los Angeles deserve nothing less than honest building inspectors and this case demonstrates that public officials who are susceptible to bribes will be held accountable,” said Steven Martinez, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI in Los Angeles. “The FBI will continue to investigate allegations of corruption by those entrusted with public office and whose salaries are paid by the taxpayer.”

A second defendant who worked as a building inspector for the City of Los Angeles pleaded guilty to accepting bribes after being charged in the undercover investigation. Hugo Gonzalez, 49, of Eagle Rock, is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Snyder on October 3.

The cases against Germain and Gonzalez are the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. 

Anyone with information about building inspectors or other officials accepting bribes in Los Angeles is urged to contact the FBI by calling its local Field Office at (310) 477-6565, or by sending an e-mail to REPORTBRIBES@ic.fbi.gov.

Release No. 11-136

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