Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Building and Safety chief outlines probe, calling bribe revelations 'violations of the public trust'

Robert "Bud" Ovrom

Calling revelations about bribery of Department of Building and Safety employees "horrendous violations of the public trust," the top official at the agency provided new details on the investigation of the scandal at a Tuesday City Hall hearing.

Appearing before a subcommittee, Robert "Bud" Ovrom said the department's code enforcement, engineering, and inspection bureaus are being examined as part of the corruption probe. The agency is also investigating developers and contractors who offered bribes to Building and Safety employees.

"This is a problem that crosscuts

our department," said Ovrom. "And it crosscuts our city."

Two building inspectors pleaded guilty in April to accepting bribes in exchange for granting approvals following an FBI investigation launched over the summer. A third inspector, Albert Acosta, who worked in the department's Van Nuys office, was fired about two weeks ago for soliciting money from contractors, according to David Lara, a spokesman for the department.

The hearing was intended to discuss reforms at the Department of Building and Safety, which is still being investigated by the FBI.

"We have a very, very good working relationship with the FBI," Ovrom told the panel.

"We tell them everything we have, and they tell us nothing about what they're doing ... That's the way it needs to operate and we're comfortable with that."

The Department of Building and Safety began its investigation of its employees after receiving an anonymous letter in January that alleged misconduct at the agency.


Joanne Montanez Rachael Leigh Cook ThalĂ­a Kristy Swanson Georgina Grenville

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