Zurik: City inspectors under investigation dodge pre-termination hearings with resignation and retirements

Zurik: City inspectors under investigation dodge pre-termination hearings with resignation and retirements

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Three city building inspectors who are under investigation for signing off on inspections without physically being at the worksite have avoided pre-termination hearings at City Hall by submitting resignation and retirement requests.

Department of Safety and Permits Inspectors Julie Tweeter, Eric Treadaway and Thomas Dwyer were all notified of their emergency suspension and were expected to appear before the department’s leadership about the accusations against them. Before those hearings were held, Dwyer and Tweeter both submitted for retirement and Treadaway resigned from his position, according to the city.

FOX 8 first reported in February about questionable inspections at the Hard Rock Hotel construction site. That site collapsed in October 2019, killing three people, two of which are still trapped in the rubble.

Documents showed that Tweeter performed several inspections for the city before being properly certified.

According to city documents, they believe Tweeter was responsible for “unconducted inspections” on at least eight dates.

FOX 8 compared GPS points from the inspector’s city vehicle with inspection logs where the inspectors signed off on the job.

In one case, inspector Julie Tweeter logged in the system she approved a pour on the 17th floor for the Hard Rock Hotel site and uploaded three photos to the city’s system. GPS on a vehicle believed to have been used by her shows the closest she could have been to the site was two and a half blocks away for less than ten minutes -- making inspection on the 17th floor physically impossible.

Our analysis also found that Treadaway signed off on inspections without visiting the Hard Rock site, spending a large portion of one day on the other side of the Mississippi River. The city told Treadaway he also used third-party pictures that he submitted to the LAMA system [the inspection system] to make it appear he was present at the job site.

In Dwyer’s case, FOX 8 found that a city vehicle believed to be used by him went to Costco for more than an hour even though he claimed to inspect the Hard Rock site, his vehicle never came close to the corner of Canal and Rampart.

Numerous investigations are ongoing into the city’s Safety and Permits Department.

City leaders demoted Zach Smith, the department’s former leader, and reassigned him to another department. Before the Coronavirus pandemic, the city also announced plans to reorganize the department including rebranding it.

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