ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – A city building inspector was approving his own work–work he was illegally doing on the side. Now he’s off the job, and the City of Albuquerque is making some changes.
The investigation by the City Inspector General shows a conflict of interest that was undetected for years.
When you build something new, add on to your home, or remodel your business, the city must do a proper inspection and give its approval.
“That’s building and safety, and that’s people’s lives,” said Gilbert Montano, the chief of staff for the mayor. “It’s common sense. If you’re doing the work, you can’t inspect your own work,” he said.
According to the city’s investigation, he inspected the contract work that he performed himself. All of this occurred as his license was suspended because licensed inspectors aren’t allowed to do construction work. The report also indicated he didn’t enter inspection information in the city’s database.
“We want to fair it out–employees that don’t show up for a good honest day’s work,” Montano said.
The report reveals the renegade inspector did unauthorized plumbing work at a local restaurant, and that was just the beginning of unapproved on-the-side jobs. The reported cited $600 for plumbing work at a home and $9,000 for plumbing work at a gym.
Sometimes the inspector performed the plumbing work while he was on sick leave, according to the report.
“it’s disheartening to see that we have to address some of these kind of fundamental things,” Montano said.
City workers can’t choose which construction sites they inspect. It’s random now, and memos have gone out to Building Safety division employees that operating a personal business during working hours is not appropriate.
The building inspector resigned in January knowing he was in trouble. The city is deciding if it will take legal against against him.
The report did not reveal the inspector’s name or the addresses of any of the homes and businesses he illegally worked on and inspected.