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Fri Feb 21, 2020, 11:38 AM

City of New Orleans suspends inspectors who signed off on Hard Rock project work


The city of New Orleans placed two Department of Safety and Permits employees on emergency suspension Thursday, records show. A third employee who retired last week from the department was notified Thursday of allegations against him similar to those made against the suspended workers. All three senior building inspectors approved work at the Hard Rock Hotel construction site prior to its Oct. 12 collapse that killed three workers, according to inspection records.

The news comes amid multiple investigations into the Department of Safety and Permits, including a federal probe that predates the collapse of the 18-story structure. It has already resulted in a guilty plea from a former city inspector for taking bribes. Multiple investigations are looking into the collapse at the Hard Rock site, where the bodies of two workers have not yet been recovered because city officials insist it’s not safe to do so.

The two Safety and Permits employees suspended Thursday, Julie Tweeter and veteran inspector Eric Treadaway, and the retired employee, Thomas Dwyer, were accused in separate suspension notifications of using photos of inspection sites sent to them by third parties to give the false impression they inspected the property in person.

Letters sent separately to Dwyer, Tweeter and Treadaway all contain the same allegation: “a pattern of your failure to conduct inspections of buildings as assigned and required by our job duties, as well as subsequent falsification of public records pertaining to these unconducted inspections.”

Tweeter’s attorney Herb Larson said in a statement his client was “fully cooperating” with law enforcement investigations and “shares the public’s concern regarding the tragedy.” WDSU could not immediately reach Dwyer or Treadaway. Dwyer retired Friday, Feb. 14, said LaTonya Norton, press secretary for Mayor LaToya Cantrell. Tweeter and Treadaway have "pretermination hearings" scheduled for March 9, according to their letters, which Chief Administrative Officer Gilbert Montano signed.

Records show Treadaway worked for the department since 1987. Dwyer retired after joining the Safety and Permits in 1997, and Tweeter has worked for the department since March 2015. Thursday’s suspensions come about five months after two now-retired employees of the Department of Safety and Permits, Richella Maxwell and Larry Chan, faced emergency suspensions related to an unspecified federal investigation into the department.

Maxwell and Chan’s suspension letters, sent in September, each separately claimed they were involved in “the alleged illegal issuance of city permits.” They left their city jobs in mid-January and were able to receive back pay for the four months they were suspended with the understanding they would drop their appeals and not “seek or accept any future employment with the City.”

The former building inspector who pleaded guilty in federal court, Kevin Richardson, has admitted to accepting $65,000 in bribes related to his duties as a code enforcement inspector. His sentencing hearing is set for May 5 in U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan's court.

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Reply City of New Orleans suspends inspectors who signed off on Hard Rock project work (Original post)
fleur-de-lisa Feb 2020 OP
beachbumbob Feb 2020 #1
democratisphere Feb 2020 #2
rampartc Feb 2020 #3

Response to fleur-de-lisa (Original post)

Fri Feb 21, 2020, 11:44 AM

1. criminal charges should be underway

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Response to fleur-de-lisa (Original post)

Fri Feb 21, 2020, 11:47 AM

2. WhyTF can't people just do their jobs well.

Good Ol' Louisiana corruption.

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Response to fleur-de-lisa (Original post)

Fri Feb 21, 2020, 12:13 PM

3. this is an incredible tragedy

the laziness and/or corruption of these employees has shifted $millions in liability from the owners and contractors to the taxpayers.

that includes 3 wrongful death
the partial implosion
construction costs of the project
the still unknown clean up costs
losses to surrounding business
etc etc etc

easily millions, maybe much more.

lee zurik at fox channel 8 does a great job on these investigative stories, and may be the best journalist on the local news.

you been mardi graing?

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