Brooklyn Landlord Convicted of Bribing DOB Inspector Gets Up to Six Years in Prison
Brooklyn landlord Herman Epstein, who in February was convicted of third-degree felony bribery for paying off a New York City Department of Buildings inspector, has been sentenced to three-to-six years in state prison, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. announced today.
Epstein, 37, was convicted of bribing the DOB official to remove stop-work orders, complaints and violations on properties that he owned or managed, the Manhattan DA’s office said. The landlord owns eight residential buildings and manages an additional four, including 848 Hart Street and 190 Wilson Avenue, both in Bushwick, and a stretch of properties on Stockton Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
He is one of more than 50 individuals charged in multiple corruption and bribery schemes involving inspectors from the DOB and the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD)—the result of a nearly two-year investigation by the Manhattan DA’s office’s rackets bureau, which worked alongside the city’s Department of Investigation.
While the investigation began as an inquiry into Epstein’s bribery of a single DOB inspector in 2013, it ultimately led to the indictment of 12 DOB employees, five HPD employees and 34 property managers, expeditors and contractors.
Utilizing court-authorized wiretapping, surveillance and the analysis of city, financial and phone records, investigators uncovered around $450,000 in bribes involving roughly 100 residential and commercial properties across Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, the DA’s office said.
Thus far, the investigation has brought about two trial convictions while more than 40 people have pleaded guilty to their role in bribery schemes. Six former building inspectors have received prison sentences and more than $350,000 in restitution and fines have been handed out.
In a statement, Vance described Epstein as “a serial briber” who “did not hesitate to pay for favors, ignore safety regulations, flout the law with seeming impunity, and even use aliases in an attempt to disguise his dishonest conduct.”
Epstein’s attorney, Susan Necheles of Hafetz & Necheles, did not return a request for comment.