- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 4, 2006

A D.C. Department of Transportation inspector was indicted last week on charges of seeking cash payments in exchange for allowing illegal job sites to operate or to prevent contractors from being fined.

Denard A. Smith, the second city inspector charged in a bribery scandal in the past month, used the term “lunch” as way of getting cash from people who failed to obtain city work permits, according to records filed last week in federal court in the District.

“You know what I’m saying: When I say, ‘Take me out to lunch,’ I can’t say, ‘Well, give me some money,’ you know what I’m saying, I’m taking a bribe here,” Mr. Smith said in a conversation with a person facing a fine, the court records showed.

On May 23, the FBI arrested another agency inspector, Frank Robinson, on similar charges.

Mr. Robinson and Mr. Smith worked in the agency’s Public Space Management Administration.

Acting Director Michelle Pourciau said Friday that city officials knew that an indictment against Mr. Smith was likely.

She said Mr. Smith was terminated from the agency several months ago.

“This type of action is reprehensible,” Miss Pourciau said.

She said the agency’s Office of Integrity and Compliance has begun “the first of many training sessions to ensure that our inspectors perform to the highest ethical standards.”

Mr. Smith could not be reached for comment. He is scheduled to be arraigned June 20 in U.S. District Court.

Mr. Smith drove a government-issued truck to enforce public space regulations in Northwest neighborhoods. Inspectors can issue fines up to $2,500 and shut down job sites for infractions, such as leaving machines or heavy equipment on sidewalks.

Authorities said Mr. Smith accepted a total of about $4,000 in cash from more than a dozen people since last summer. In exchange, authorities said, he did not issue stop-work orders or fines.

Authorities taped a conversation between Mr. Smith and an unidentified person at a job site on Sept. 29, court records show.

The person offered $50 to avoid a stop-work order, but Mr. Smith said he had expected more, the indictment shows.

“Fifty dollars? Hey, man,” Mr. Smith said.

“That’s plenty of lunch,” the person replied.

“It’s kind of an insult,” Mr. Smith said, according to charging documents.

“I mean, I’m going to take it, but I’m just letting you know, man, this is an insult,” Mr. Smith said later in the conversation.

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