NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There were startling discoveries Wednesday about the engineer and the real estate developers involved in the removal of fire escapes from a Bronx apartment building.
CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer has learned of a bid rigging conviction for one and allegations of political payoffs for the others.
The hunt was on Wednesday for the licensed engineer, Roland Draper, who filed improper permits for renovations at 2400 Webb Ave., in the Bronx, and as a result the fire escapes were removed illegally.
Kramer went looking for him in Hasbrouck Heights, N.J., but no one answered the door at his home.
Draper also wasn’t at the building in the Bronx, where his blooper of a mistake forced the evacuation of 200 people for who knows how long, because they he took down their fire protection.
There are some serious questions to ask Draper and the people who hired him. CBS 2 has learned that Draper pleaded guilty to bid rigging for construction work done on Forest Park Gardens in Queens. As a result his engineering license was suspended in New York for two years and he was fined $5,000. New Jersey also moved to suspend his license last year for the same crime.
With the University Heights building dramatically missing all of its fire escapes because of Draper’s mistakes the city Department of Buildings is not only investigating his work on Webb avenue, but also his involvement in 48 other active projects in the city.
“I’m speechless right now,” displaced Webb Avenue tenant Yvonne Tyson said.
But there’s more to be speechless about.
The owners of the Webb Avenue building, Samuel and Philip Goldfarb, were, according to published reports, involved in paying $7,000 in bribes to Sara Bost, the one-time mayor of Irvington, N.J.
“I’m so upset,” Tyson said.
She’s upset because the real reason for getting rid of the fire escapes may be surfacing. The landlord is making it clear they want the tenants out, maybe because they want to turn the building into condominiums.
“If you’re on the up and up and there wasn’t an ulterior motive to this why is one of the options we’re given a buyout? And you know what the buyout is? Three months rent and your security is returned and I’m laughing because that’s a joke,” Tyson said.
Kramer’s calls to Goldfarb Properties were not returned Wednesday. The Department of Buildings said only that the investigation is ongoing.
Sources said the department is looking into the engineer, the construction company and the landlords.
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