NEW YORK - A two-year investigation has led to the arrests of 17 people who allegedly lying about asbestos inspections in dozens of city buildings.

It comes following a joint investigation by the D.A.'s office in Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island.

According to the indictment, the Certified Asbestos Investigators falsely filed documents certifying asbestos inspections were done at about 40 sites citywide.

Some of the workers were not even in New York when they claimed to have done the inspections.

"We will prosecute them. We will revoke their professional credentials. We will do what is necessary to protect the city from illegal construction conduct that puts people in danger," said DOI Commissioner Mark Peters.

"We can't afford to wait until the next tragedy strikes to make the changes necessary to protect New Yorkers' lives and their well-being today," said Manhattan DA Cryus Vance Jr.

"This is criminal activity that's about greed. It's all about life and death. It's people putting their own financial gain ahead of the well-being and safety of New Yorkers," said Staten Island DA Michael McMahon.

All of the inspectors are charged with filing false documents.

The DOI is recommending changes such as more thorough background checks and audits.