New Yorkers count on city inspectors to ensure construction is safe, but officials say a pair of companies faked checks at 40 sites around the city. Now seven people are indicted. NY1's Josh Robin filed the following report.
They're paraded before the cameras and into criminal court.
Prosecutors claim the seven men were part of schemes that could have killed someone.
At construction sites, trained site safety managers were switched out for people with no experience at all.
They were instead short order cooks and hairdressers found on Craigslist.
They filled out inspection rolls with the names of real inspectors who hadn't really been there.
In fact, one of them wasn't even alive.
"This is about defendants who put their fellow workers, and all New Yorkers who walk past these sites—put their safety at risk," said Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark Peters.
What helped crack the case was construction at this Upper East Side building; it was a routine probe by a city building inspector—until he made a startling discovery.
"He checked the log and noticed that the site safety manager listed as doing the inspection, in fact, had been dead for a month," said Peters.
That was just the beginning.
Investigators discovered two firms falsified more than 450 documents at about 40 sites across the city.
At one firm, phony inspectors allegedly used the names of licensed site safety managers without their permission.
He allegedly worked with another man who had real inspectors agreeing to use their names, but they sometimes never did the inspection.
One person even billed 28 hours for work done in a single day.
The seven pleaded not guilty in court
"Certainly in this town. With the building that you hear going on outside and we see going on all over this city these inspection rules have to be followed," said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr.
Prosecutors say the scheme was a bid to save money.
They found real dangers overlooked, but no one was hurt.
Officials say the investigation is ongoing. That's set up the possibility that there will be more indictments.
Meanwhile, there are changes in city regulations. Officials say will make it harder for this kind of alleged fraud to happen again.