Authorities: 14 charged in 3 construction fraud schemes

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Alex Kogan, 65, allegedly took $3,500 payments to declare development projects free of asbestos. Alex Kogan, 65, allegedly took $3,500 payments to declare development projects free of asbestos.
Hiram Beza, a Department of Buildings inspector, faces charges for allegedly issuing favorable inspections to property owners in exchange for money and home renovations. Hiram Beza, a Department of Buildings inspector, faces charges for allegedly issuing favorable inspections to property owners in exchange for money and home renovations.
Henry Samuels, a licensed master plumber, allegedly sold permits to unlicensed workers. Henry Samuels, a licensed master plumber, allegedly sold permits to unlicensed workers.
BROOKLYN -

Authorities announced charges against 14 people Wednesday in connection with three construction fraud schemes throughout the borough.

In one, asbestos inspector Alex Kogan, 65, allegedly took $3,500 payments to declare development projects free of the harmful material. In some cases, he allegedly never even inspected the sites. In others, authorities accuse him of sending in new drywall purchased from Home Depot as sample material from the buildings he was supposed to inspect.

"For these defendants, it's about expediting the construction timeline, about making an extra buck," says Mark Peters, the city's commissioner of investigations. "But for the workers, for New Yorkers, it's about our health and safety. And we won't stand for it to be compromised."

Hiram Beza, a Department of Buildings inspector, faces charges for allegedly issuing favorable inspections to property owners in exchange for money and home renovations.

And Henry Samuels, a licensed master plumber, allegedly sold permits to unlicensed workers. The law requires the licensed plumber to do the work himself or directly supervise it, but authorities accuse him of failing to do either of those things.

"People who engage in these schemes show complete disregard not just for their own personal integrity -- but for the rule of law and the personal well-being of every person living, working and even visiting Brooklyn," says acting District Attorney Eric Gonzalez.

All three cases stemmed from an earlier case of construction fraud involving seven National Grid employees earlier this year. Authorities say there may be more charges to come.

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