NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - In a parish where dozens of construction projects are approved each year, word of a code enforcement inspector allegedly taking bribes came as bad news for his former supervisor.
A federal bill of information filed in New Orleans Tuesday (Feb. 12) charges former Jefferson Parish building inspector Alton McClinton, a 12-year parish employee, of taking bribes from individuals in exchange for filing passing reports on buildings with zoning violations. McClinton is also accused of issuing inspection reports on buildings that had not actually been inspected.
Those charges prompted McClinton’s former supervisor, Aimee‘ Vallot, director of the code enforcement department, to launch an investigation. The department will look into records from the past five years, which is the for the period of time in which prosecutors allege the crimes occurred.
“We found out the parameters from January 2014, to August of 2017, and we are beginning our search in terms of the investigation,” Vallot said.
This isn’t the first time the Jefferson Parish code enforcement office has come under scrutiny. Back in 2012, former code inspector Alphonse Chauvin was arrested for malfeasance in office, along with two contractors, in another bribery investigation.
Jefferson Parish Councilwoman Jennifer Van Vrancken said the charges are alarming.
“Anytime you have a public employee who appears to be off road it’s concerning,” Van Vrancken said.
As of Wednesday, there was no word as to whether or not the inspector general is involved in this investigation, but he soon could be.
“Most likely I will speak with the inspector general right now I’m handling the internal investigation myself,” Vallo said.
At this point, parish officials aren’t sure if tainted inspections have compromised the safety of any buildings.
“We are going through every inspection that employee did, and we will review every one of them,” Vallot said.
Parish officials urge anyone else who suspects illegal activity to come forward.
“Anyone who suspects any of our employees are off road call us, we need to be aware of it,” Van Vrancken said.
FOX 8 tried but was not able to reach McClinton for comment. He resigned from his parish job last month.
If convicted of public bribery charges, McClinton could spend as much as three years in jail and be forced to pay a $250,000 fine. He may also have to forfeit any alleged bribes.
McClinton is set to appear in court next week. If you suspect wrongdoing in the Jefferson Parish government, call the parish inspector general at (504) 736-8962