Zurik: FOX 8 investigation discovers additional discrepancies with more city inspectors at Hard Rock Hotel site

Updated: Feb. 18, 2020 at 9:50 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - An examination of the City of New Orleans GPS records shows additional discrepancies with more city inspectors at the site of the Hard Rock Hotel. The records were requested by FOX 8 News in December 2019, following the deadly collapse in October that killed three men.

FOX 8 received the records from the city Feb. 11 and has been analyzing the data and matching vehicles with potential drivers since the city said the software does not track which employee drives which vehicle.

As FOX 8 first reported on Feb. 17, the GPS records revealed inspector Julie Tweeter may not have been able to inspect the Hard Rock Hotel construction site on at least four occasions last year. She claimed she did the inspections on an inspection log obtained by FOX 8 News.

MORE: City inspector signed off on Hard Rock Hotel work without proper certification

On July 18, 2019, Tweeter claimed to inspect the hotel site, passing contractors on a slab inspection. But according to GPS information for the vehicle believed to have been used by Tweeter shows she was not at the site. Those same GPS records show she spent one hour and forty-five minutes at her house during the middle of the day, but never at the Hard Rock site.

Tweeter’s vehicle did appear to visit the Hard Rock site the day the hotel collapsed. GPS records showed the vehicle stayed there for nearly two hours then returned home.

A map plots the GPS coordinates of a Department of Safety and Permits vehicle believed to have...
A map plots the GPS coordinates of a Department of Safety and Permits vehicle believed to have been used by inspector Thomas Dwyer on August 9, 2019. On that date he signed off on three items at the Hard Rock Construction site.(WVUE-TV)

FOX 8′s analysis of the GPS records also raise questions of another inspector -- Thomas Dwyer -- who city officials confirm retired on Friday, Feb. 14.

On August 9, 2019, inspection logs show that Dwyer signed off on three slab inspections at the Hard Rock Hotel site. But GPS data from a car believed to be used by Dwyer shows he was not close to the construction site that day.

The GPS records do show him making an hour-long stop at Costco and going to his home in Gretna. He appeared to arrive at City Hall around 9 a.m. and left at 2:48 p.m.

Inspection logs show he signed off on work for the Hard Rock Hotel project, but GPS data indicates he was never at the site that day.

MORE: City officials react to GPS data uncovered by FOX 8 Lee Zurik Investigation

FOX 8′s analysis of GPS records in the Department of Safety and Permits fleet showed Dwyer did inspect the Hard Rock site on September 20, 2019. On that inspection, GPS confirmed a department vehicle believed to have been used by Dwyer stopped in front of the construction site for twenty minutes.

FOX 8 has attempted to reach Dwyer for a comment related to this story but have not heard back.

MORE COVERAGE: City inspectors approved work at the Hard Rock Hotel site, but GPS shows they were not there

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