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City Inspector Gets 3 Years For Taking Bribes

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CHICAGO (CBS) — A city building inspector was sentenced Friday to three years in federal prison for demanding and accepting bribes from developers to approve inspections at construction sites.

Jose Hernandez was convicted following a trial in September on bribery charges and sentenced Friday for soliciting or obtaining cash bribes totaling about $30,000 from contractors, developers and homeowners since at least 2005, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Hernandez, 47, of Chicago, had worked for the city as an inspector since 1988, the release said.He was also fined $10,000 by U.S. District Judge David Coar and ordered to report to prison e on Jan. 31.

To date, 21 defendants, including 15 current or former City of Chicago employees, have been convicted as part of the federal corruption investigation code-named Operation Crooked Code.

Evidence at Hernandez’s trial showed he’d had a corrupt relationship with a permit “expediter” since late 2005, and with a contractor since 2007, both of whom cooperated in the investigation.

He accepted a $1,000 bribe from the cooperating contractor on Aug. 21, 2008, when Hernandez performed a “rough inspection” — framing, electrical wiring, plumbing and ventilation ducts before interior walls are sealed — at a single-family residence in the 9900 block of South Throop in Chicago, the release said.

At the time the interior walls were covered with drywall, rendering a legitimate inspection impossible, but Hernandez signed the building permit, saying “rough frame approved.”

He also accepted $1,000 from the same contractor on Aug. 10, 2009, to approve a residential rough inspection in the 700 block of West Cornelia.

He was also convicted of demanding $2,000 bribes from two different developers to not issue stop work orders at commercial buildings at 650 N. Dearborn in June 2007 and at 11250 S. Michigan in April 2006.

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