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Supervisors investigated in city inspectors bribery probe

May 31, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A bribery scandal involving Los Angeles city building inspectors is growing. It now involves some higher ranking supervisors. There are two different investigations.

The 450 inspectors at the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety are supposed to do just that: inspect and assure that construction is done properly and safely.

Photographs show money being paid to an inspector. Two inspectors already have pleaded guilty to taking thousands of dollars in bribes to sign off on inspections that were never performed.

Eyewitness News has confirmed that the FBI investigation now includes supervisors.

No one answered the door at the home of one inspector still under investigation who is now retired.

Dave Lara, a spokesman for the Building and Safety Dept., says safety has not been compromised in new construction.

"We're here to ensure that there's safety in buildings throughout this city. We're here to ensure that when a development comes along in this city, that it meets all the codes and all the safety requirements that they have to have," said Lara.

The department began its own investigation and learned about a federal probe after it received an anonymous letter. The letter warned of bribes at 52 construction sites.

"We're looking at any allegations that may come forward. We're taking this very seriously and will take the time needed to get to the bottom of it," said Lara.

Any employee charged with taking bribes could end up in federal court. A federal grand jury is investigating and the Department of Building and Safety has looked at least 14 of its own employees.

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