The Real Deal New York

Expediters being charged in massive bribery scheme

Middlemen hired by developers often use illegal methods, investigation finds
February 23, 2015 11:30AM

In a case of serious déjà vu for New York City, a group of middlemen known as “expediters” are among those being charged in the massive bribery scheme centered around building inspectors.

Expediters receive money from developers to acquire building permits, address violations and fill out key paperwork — all as fast as possible, and often, through illegal means, the New York Daily News reported. The corrupt culture of expediters was first revealed fifteen years ago during a similar investigation, and prosecutors demanded that they be banned. However, the number of expediters licensed by the city has actually doubled since then, up to 3,200 from 1,600.

“Anytime you can’t interact with your own government without hiring someone to grease the skids, that means the system is broken,” said Daniel Castleman, a former Manhattan prosecutor who led investigations into expediters 15 years ago. “You’re going to see these cases every five or 10 or 25 years because the system is built in such a way that you gotta have an edge.”

Over the past several years, expediters have been cited for violations ranging from bribing officials with thousands of dollars to submitting doctored photographs. In most cases, the expediters are placed on probation and begin working again shortly after. In one case, a Brooklyn man named David Weiszer posed as an expediter paid a buildings department official $300,000 in exchange for clemency on code violations. He is now a fugitive.

Charges against 50 people including building inspectors, expediters and contractors were announced earlier this month. [NYDN] — Tess Hofmann