Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance
NEW YORK CITY—Brooklyn landlord Herman Epstein was sentenced to three to six years in state prison for bribing a New York City Department of Buildings inspector. The investigation into Epstein’s activities has led to multiple indictments, convictions and guilty pleas of DOB and Housing and Preservation inspectors and employees.
Epstein, 37, was convicted by a New York State Supreme Court jury of one count of bribery in the third degree on Feb. 7. The nearly two-year probe began as an inquiry into Epstein’s alleged bribery of a single DOB inspector in 2013, which subsequently uncovered widespread corruption, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office states. Epstein was charged with bribing the DOB inspector to remove stop work orders, complaints, and violations associated with properties he owned or was affiliated with. Epstein reportedly owns properties in Bedford-Stuyvesant and Bushwick in Brooklyn. Epstein’s jail sentence was handed down on Monday.
“Herman Epstein is a serial briber who has shown time and again that nothing—including criminal convictions—will stop him from cutting corners to make a profit,” says Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance. “In this case and previous ones, he 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 was one of more than 50 individuals charged in multiple corruption and bribery schemes involving DOB and Housing Preservation and Development inspectors. The investigation utilizing court-authorized wiretapping, analysis of DOB, HPD, financial, and phone records, and surveillance, led to the indictment of 12 DOB employees, five HPD employees, and 34 property managers, expeditors, or contractors, and involved approximately $450,000 in bribes related to 100 residential and commercial properties in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens.
The probe has netted to date two trial convictions and more than 40 guilty pleas of individuals in connection with the investigation. Six former building inspectors have been sentenced to prison terms and more than $350,000 has been ordered in restitution and fines, the district attorney’s office reports.