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Press Release

Former City of Pittsburgh Building Inspector Pleads Guilty to Bribery

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Pennsylvania

PITTSBURGH, Pa. – A resident of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds, United States Attorney Eric G. Olshan announced today.

Walter Eiseman, 58, pleaded guilty before United States Chief District Judge Mark R. Hornak.

In connection with the guilty plea, Eiseman admitted that, as a building inspector for the City of Pittsburgh, he was responsible for performing inspections of properties that were the subject of applications for certificates of occupancy. In 2018, a developer was working on a project to redevelop a commercial building in downtown Pittsburgh as luxury apartments and hotel rooms. As part of the financing for the project, the developer sought a historical tax credit, which would only be granted after the developer obtained a temporary certificate of occupancy for one of the project’s floors by the end of December 2018. In support of his guilty plea, Eiseman admitted performing inspections on two floors of the project during the month of December, which resulted in a temporary certificate of occupancy being issued. In return for such official action, Eiseman accepted home appliances from the developer, which were delivered in early January 2019. Eiseman also admitted that he solicited a set of kitchen cabinets from the developer, which were ordered but ultimately not delivered to Eiseman’s residence.

“Walter Eiseman breached the trust placed in him by the public and the City of Pittsburgh when he sought out and accepted bribes in exchange for using his authority as a building inspector to prioritize the approval of a lucrative temporary certificate of occupancy,” said U.S. Attorney Olshan. “Whether it’s a bag of cash, a car, or a set of kitchen appliances, a bribe is a bribe all the same. This office and our partners at the FBI are committed to rooting out corruption at all levels of government. The public expects a level playing field, and it is our job to keep it that way.”

Chief Judge Hornak scheduled sentencing for June 6, 2024. The law provides for a maximum total sentence of up to ten years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, or both. Under the federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant United States Attorney Jeffrey R. Bengel is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Eiseman.

Updated February 8, 2024

Public Corruption