- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 24, 2006

A D.C. Department of Transportation (DDOT) inspector has been arrested after an FBI videotape sting showed him demanding cash from a plumbing contractor to ensure he would not get fined, according to court records.

“You want your permit right away, right?” city inspector Frank Robinson asked the unidentified contractor, according to an FBI affidavit filed in federal court last week.

“Damn right I want my permit,” the contractor replied.

“You need to love me, baby; you need to love me,” Mr. Robinson said before telling the contractor to pay him $500, according to the FBI affidavit.

The affidavit says the conversation took place 10 days ago and that Mr. Robinson has been under investigation since December 2004. It identifies the contractor only as a cooperating witness.

Authorities have been “conducting a covert investigation involving potential bribery payments made to Robinson by a contractor and subcontractor …,” according to the affidavit.

Mr. Robinson had been an inspector in the DDOT Public Space Management Administration, which monitors work performed on public land.

He was arrested on a bribery charge Tuesday and could not be reached for comment yesterday. His attorney did not return phone messages yesterday.

A transportation department spokesman said Mr. Robinson was fired after his FBI arrest.

“DDOT was aware of the investigation into Mr. Robinson’s reputed conduct and has been cooperating fully with the authorities. We will continue to cooperate with local and federal authorities on the matter,” Erik Linden, a DDOT spokesman, said yesterday.

“We remain confident that this type of investigation by law enforcement officials is helping us to produce a safer, more efficient and secure transportation network for the District,” Mr. Linden said.

He said the transportation department’s Office of Ethics and Integrity plans to hold training sessions for city inspectors next week in the wake of Mr. Robinson’s arrest.

The FBI sting comes about a year after a high-ranking city transportation official pleaded guilty in an unrelated corruption scandal.

Wilhelm Derminassian, former associate director of DDOT, was charged with accepting about $20,000 in cash and gifts, including free car-repair work, from a contracting company he oversaw.

Last year, Derminassian was sentenced in federal court to more than two years in prison and ordered to pay $100,000 in fines after pleading guilty to wire fraud and other charges.

A preliminary hearing in Mr. Robinson’s case has been scheduled for next month.

(Click here for the affidavit.)

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