Detroit — Two city building and electrical inspectors have pleaded guilty to accepting bribes to approve shoddy work at construction projects that could have endangered the public, officials said Tuesday.
The announcement of the pleas was made Tuesday by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette.
Schuette identified the men as Phil Lockhart, 57, of Detroit, and Delos Matthews, 54, of Farmington Hills.
Each man pleaded guilty to one count of accepting a bribe before Wayne County 36th District Court Judge Kevin Robbins on Dec. 10, 2013.
According to Schuette’s office, Lockhart accepted $300 to ignore the city’s permit requirement for a residential construction project performed by a contractor.
Matthews took a $200 cash bridge to approve electric circuits in a rental property that did not meet electrical code, according to Schuette. He also ignored other electrical code violations, creating a potential fire risk for future tenants.
On Tuesday, Taylor was sentenced to two years’ probation, serving the first 120 days on tethered house arrest; 25 hours community service; plus court costs and fees.
Matthews received two years probation and 40 hours of community service, plus court costs and fees.
“Public safety officials who accept bribes and ignore their duties undermine safety for everyone,” Schuette said in a statement. “Detroit needs more safety, not less, and that starts with public officials doing their job instead of lining their pockets.”
The case originated from an investigation by the FBI-led Detroit Area Public Corruption Task Force in collaboration with the Michigan Attorney General’s Public Integrity Unit.
Meanwhile, criminal cases remain pending against five current and former Detroit Building Safety Engineering and Environmental Department inspectors. Schuette charged the employees in August 2013 with allegedly accepting bribes in exchange for ignoring their duty to enforce city building, zoning, electrical, and plumbing codes.
Schuette filed felony bribery charges against current and former inspectors Eric Miller, 50, of Detroit; John Jones, 54, of Detroit; Bob Watson, 52, of Dearborn; Kenneth Russ, 53, of Detroit, and Moreno Taylor, 53, of Livonia.
From 2008 to 2013, a task force investigation revealed instances of several city inspectors alleged to have frequently solicited, accepted, and, in some cases demanded bribes from local contractors and property owners.
Rather than issuing citations, corrupt inspectors allegedly asked to be “taken care of” and then looked the other way when they received a cash bribe, according to Schuette’s office. It is alleged the bribes range from approximately $200 to $3,000.