An inspector with the city’s Department of Environmental Protection is accused of taking bribes from an asbestos abatement contractor, officials said Monday.
Samuel Nebedum, 66, intentionally ignored violations at the contractor’s worksites, in addition to other benefits, in exchange for cash bribes totaling $10,000, meals and sometimes even pricey fish, a joint investigation by the New York Attorney General’s Office and Department of Investigation found. The scheme between Nebedum and the unnamed contractor allegedly had gone on for about 10 years.
“As we allege, the defendant abused his position by shamelessly accepting bribes – not only violating the public trust, but also jeopardizing New Yorkers’ health and safety,” state Attorney General Barbara Underwood said. “New Yorkers rely on public servants to do their jobs and keep us safe, and my office has not hesitated to take on those who breach this most fundamental duty.”
In addition to ignoring regulations on asbestos abatement, Nebedum, who had been a DEP inspector for nearly 30 years, gave advance notice of planned inspections and referred business to the contractor based on information he obtained through visits to other jobsites, officials said.
“For nearly 10 years this city inspector allegedly cashed in his integrity, disregarding serious safety concerns in exchange for thousands of dollars in bribes, expensive fresh-caught fish, and free meals,” DOI Commissioner Margaret Garnett said. “This defendant had a duty to protect workers and the public; instead, according to the charges, he put their health at risk, failing to stop the dangerous and improper removal of asbestos."
A DEP spokesman said the city agency brought Nebedum’s alleged crimes to the attention of DOI and cooperated fully in the joint investigation.
“Proper asbestos abatement helps to protect public health and anyone who violates the city’s rules, or aids others in doing so, should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” the spokesman said.
Nebedum was arraigned Monday on charges of second-degree bribery, a felony, and misdemeanor official misconduct. He was released on his own recognizance and is due back in court on Jan. 11, Underwood’s office said.