Francesco Ginestri visited the site in late July, after a previous inspector had ordered work halted there, federal prosecutors said Wednesday in announcing the arrest. During the inspection, Ginestri handed a piece of paper to a construction worker, which had a handwritten question, asking whether construction had continued despite the stop-work order. The worker admitted that it had, according to the court complaint.
Ginestri allegedly told the worker the company could face a $25,000 fine, but instead, they could come to an agreement. Ginestri instructed the worker to deliver $1,200 cash to a bakery owned by Ginestri’s friend by noon the next day. If that happened, the inspector would not “bang” them with a fine, according to the complaint.
The worker asked if he could pay on a later date, and he and Ginestri allegedly discussed the bribe over a series of phone calls. By that point the worker had gone to the authorities, and federal agents were recording the calls.
On Aug, 24, officials watched as Ginestri was handed the cash at the bakery, authorities said.
Ginestri “exploited his position to line his pockets,” according to a statement by Acting U.S. Attorney Seth DuCharme. He was released on $150,000 bond and faces up to 5 years in prison if convicted.
The Department of Buildings referred a request for comment to City Hall. A spokesperson there called Genestri’s alleged actions “unacceptable, and we don’t condone it. The person in question is no longer a city employee.” The New York Post said his attorney, Daniel Russo, did not return a call for comment.