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Nutter orders investigation into reports of L&I inspector fraud

Mayor Nutter said media reports of L&I inspectors falsifying forms are "unacceptable" if found to be true.
Mayor Michael Nutter announces the investigation, joined by deputy mayor Everett GillSam Newhouse

Mayor Michael Nutter, with just about 70 days remaining before he leaves City Hall on Jan. 4, announced Monday that he has referred media allegations of record-tampering within the Department of Licenses & Inspections to the Office of the Inspector General.

"If true, the allegations are unacceptable," Nutter said at a press conference Mondayof a report claiming 82 private demolitions were not properly inspected byLicenses & Inspections (L&I)this year, published over the weekend in the Inquirer, which he called a "tremendously troubling story."

"We must get to the bottom of it," he said.

Related link:L&I commish disputes controller's audit of demolition inspections

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The allegations in the article include thatonly 17 percent of demolitions reviewed were correctly inspected by L&Iunder new guidelines, that some L&I records contain contradictory information, andcomments from sources indicatingthat someinspectors may have altered records in computers to conceal record-keeping errors.

Nutterhas pushed forreform at L&Iin the wake of the June 5, 2013 Salvation Army collapse that killed six and wounded 13 people, which was widely seen as a failure of L&I, the city's regulatory agency in charge of building standards and construction safety.

Related link:Drunk driver arrested after hitting seven at Delaware State homecoming

An independent commission Nutter put together orderedwidespread reforms at L&I last year. Nutter said L&I Commissioner CarltonWilliams, who did not attend the press conference,is leading an"active, aggressive effort" to implement reforms, but some employees may be undercutting his efforts.

"I can tell you from firsthand knowledge that ...unfortunately, there are some people who want to support those changes and there are some who are desperately fighting to hold on to the status quo, and they are fighting those changes within the department," Nutter said.

Inspector General Amy Kurland declined to estimate how long her investigation will take.

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