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Building inspector signed off on his own work at Hollywood development, city alleges

Building inspector signed off on his own work at Hollywood development, city alleges
A one-time plumbing inspector at the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety is accused of signing off on his plumbing work at a Hollywood project. Above, the agency's downtown headquarters. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

A Los Angeles city employee violated city ethics laws by working as an inspector on a Hollywood construction project while also providing plumbing services for the development through his own private company, the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission alleged Friday.

Eugene Day made $541,000 by providing plumbing services for a commercial building at 6500 Selma Ave. At the same time, Day signed off on his own work at the building in his role as a city inspector, the commission alleged.

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Day violated governmental ethics laws by misusing his city position and engaging in unauthorized outside employment, the commission said in a report outlining the allegations released Friday.

The Ethics Commission does not file criminal charges. Instead, it makes accusations of violations of city ethics laws, which can bring monetary fines.

Efforts to reach Day, who left the Building and Safety Department in 2015, were unsuccessful.

Day was employed by the department and served as a city inspector for the Selma Avenue project from December 2013 to June 2015, according to the commission’s report.

The Selma project was outside Day’s downtown inspection area, but he offered to serve as its plumbing inspector, the report says.

Separately, Day owned and operated All Day Plumbing & Construction, a private company, the commission alleged.

Ramland Construction, the general contractor on the Selma project, hired Day in November 2013 to be the plumbing subcontractor, the report says.

Day visited the development in his official capacity as a city plumbing inspector the next month, the report says. He issued an official correction notice to Ramland requiring a permit for all plumbing being installed at the site, and reviewed the project’s sewage ejector and potable water system, the report says.

For the next two years, the report says, Day “took little or no action to determine whether Ramland complied with correction notices. While continuing to serve as the project’s city inspector, Day approved work without verifying that appropriate permits had been issued and allowed work to be performed outside the scope of existing permits.”

City law requires the Ethics Commission to make an accusation public if efforts to resolve the matter with the accused party have failed.

Day could face fines of $1.62 million under city law. The five ethics commissioners will decide in October whether to hear the case or send it to an administrative law judge.

The case is the latest instance of alleged misconduct within the Building and Safety Department.

City investigators earlier this year uncovered unauthorized purchases, falsified invoices, improper travel expenses and accusations of workplace harassment. The allegations were forwarded to L.A. County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey’s office.

In addition, from 2011 to 2013, three building inspectors were convicted of accepting bribes in exchange for building sign-offs, and others were fired as a result of a larger investigation.

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