Saturday, June 7, 2008



One of the city's top crane inspectors pocketed thousands of dollars in bribes from a construction firm while selling copies of the crane-operator exam, authorities charged yesterday.

James Delayo, assistant chief inspector for cranes, allegedly took cash for eight years to falsify reports claiming that cranes were inspected and operators properly licensed, the Department of Investigation said.

This blatant corruption by one of the Buildings Department's most senior men comes as questions swirl around the agency's ability to safely manage the city's building boom.

There have been two deadly crane accidents within 10 weeks, and the department's commissioner was forced out.

Authorities said they have no evidence his actions were in any way connected to the March 15 crane collapse on East 51st Street, which killed seven people, or the May 30 collapse on East 91st Street, which killed two.

Delayo, a 26-year veteran of the agency, also allegedly gave the construction company advance copies of the written exam that crane operators must pass to obtain a city license. He got a $3,000 bribe for the test, authorities said.

Industry sources identified Nu-Way Crane Service of Copiague, L.I., - whose president Michael Sackaris had his home and offices searched by investigators yesterday - as the firm that paid for the operators exams.

Delayo, 60, whose salary is $74,224, had just been promoted after the March 15 collapse in Midtown.

The Bronx resident is charged with "selling out his own integrity in a way that compromised public safety" and "rendered his inspectional job meaningless," said Rose Gill Hearn, commissioner of the Department of Investigation.

Inspections were left "in hands of individuals who paid him bribes."

Delayo signed off on so-called "class C" mobile cranes - machines that are different from the tower cranes that collapsed in Manhattan - more than 20 times. He got several hundred dollars for every fake inspection, sources said.

"We have zero tolerance for any corruption anywhere in city government, and when corruption appears in a public safety agency like the Department of Buildings, it is all the more deplorable," Mayor Bloomberg said.

The inspector made a brief appearance yesterday in Manhattan Criminal Court to face felony corruption charges. He was released pending a grand-jury indictment on felony bribe receiving and record tampering, charges that carry sentences of up to seven years in prison.

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