July 23, 2009

Niagara Falls Building Inspection Office Raid

That stench you encounter once you hit the Niagara Falls border isn't the plethora of toxin-spewing factories that line what I guess could be construed as a skyline. It's the stink of corruption that has permeated every crevice of this city for decades.

For years, records of city officials have been raided and seized by virtually any and every law enforcement agency imaginable. How maniacally egotistical would a city official have to be to engage in any type of illegal activity without fear of being caught?

Apparently quite egotistical. According to the Buffalo News, three of 10 workers in the city’s Department of Inspections are now on paid administrative leave, and allegations that surfaced in court documents Friday paint a disturbing picture of how the department operated.

In addition, the News piece stated "a search warrant for the City Hall offices of Bax and Amendola show that investigators were looking for evidence of whether the two employees received “items of value”; whether inspectors, including Bax, had construction work done on their homes by David Gross Contracting; and whether Department of Inspections employees had “corrupt relationships” with David Gross Contracting."

Now, we can all play coy and say that these are just allegations - the folks from the FBI who raided city hall are just on a wild goose chase. But we all know the reality of the situation, and when the indictments come down, not a single person in this county will be surprised.

We know that acting Building Commissioner Guy Bax, Chief Plumbing Inspector George Amendola as well as another employee are on paid administrative leave.

What is unclear is the role Senior Building/Housing Inspector Dennis Virtuoso has in this supposed "pay to play" investigation, if any. Virtuoso, who is also a Niagara County Legislator, has received campaign contributions from David Gross as recently as 2007.

I certainly wouldn't want to presume that Virtuoso is in bed with Gross in the same manner that his colleagues in the Building Inspection Department are, allegedly. I'm sure Gross' contribution to Virtuoso is based on his perception of the work Virtuoso does in the county legislature.

Either way, this is just another black eye on a city can never seem to get out of its own way.

The staff of the department is pictured below.


Dark Knight said...

I have some mixed feelings on this after reading the Reporter story. Everyone is so quick to cry corruption but look at the Anello stuff. Say what you want, but at the end of the day there was much less to that situation than people were led to believe. Yet, it paralyzed his administration and did a huge disservice to the people of Niagara Falls.

These latest charges seem iffy at best to me. It seems if you have an axe to grind with people in Niagara Falls leadership the feds are more than happy to believe you.

If there is guilt, then let there be justice. But this can't drag on like the Anello stuff did.

Poopchute said...

Knight, its the republican way to do things, spend 10 million on lawyers and court fee's for a 40,000 dollar loan. Why just not tell him to pay it back and not wasted all the capital?

James T. Kirk said...

Uh, Poopchute, probably because that doesn't remove the cancer of corruption from the city's government...? Just a thought.