NEW YORK CITY-Manhattan DA Robert M. Morgenthau and Department of Investigations commissioner Edward J. Kuiansky have released the names of five DOB employees, and three others, who have been indicted and arrested for taking bribes or gratuities in exchange for permits and other favors.

Those indicted yesterday are: Barry Cox, the deputy commissioner for operations for the DOB, the second ranking officer at the agency; James Leonard, the Queens Borough commissioner of the DOB; Joseph Mineo, the executive chief inspector for DOB; Darral Hilton, the administrative chief inspector for Brooklyn; Siegfried Wyner, a DOB plans examiner; Edmund Cunningham, since-retired chief of the Bureau of Fire Prevention for the New York City Fire Department; Christopher Yagasits, formerly of the Department of Transportation; and Joseph DeFranzo, an employee of the New York State Canal Authority.

Cox, Hilton, Wyner and Cunningham are all facing charges stemming from individual situations in which they allegedly accepted gifts and/or money to aid permit applicants. Specifically, Cox is reportedly charged with two felony counts of offering a false instrument for filing and four misdemeanor counts of receiving unlawful gratuities. These stem from his alleged acceptance of a family vacation in Florida, sports tickets, wine and use of an apartment in exchange for permit approvals.

Hilton’s two counts of receiving unlawful gratuities relate to his alleged acceptance of meals and sports tickets for favors. Wyner is charged with allegedly trading permits for help with a transfer from the Bronx to the Manhattan office. Wyner’s two counts of receiving unlawful gratuities stem from his alleged acceptance of cash and theater tickets, and his official misconduct charge is for approving permits without conducting a review of the plans. Cunningham faces two counts of receiving unlawful gratuities and one count of offering a false filing in the first degree for allegedly accepting a ski trip and a golf trip in exchange for official favors.

Yagastis’ charges are for having allegedly tried to accept a theater ticket voucher from someone he thought was the assistant of an expeditor, but was actually an undercover police detective. He faces one count of receiving unlawful gratuities for DOT permits.

Leonard, DeFranzo and Mineo are all charged with crimes related to their alleged involvement in the manipulation of DOB records on the home owned by DeFranzo’s mother. DeFranzo faces two counts of bribery in the third degree and attempted criminal possession of a forged instrument for his alleged role in trying to obtain a “blind” inspector to issue a false certificate of occupancy and approval on the plans. Leonard is charged with tampering with public records in the first degree, offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree and two counts of official misconduct for allegedly retaining the corrupt inspector and attempting to hide and destroy the files. Then chief construction inspector for Queens Mineo is charged with bribe receiving in the third degree, official misconduct and receiving unlawful gratuities for allegedly taking cash and gift certificates to sign-off on the DeFranzo house.

Mineo is also charged with another count of receiving unlawful gratuities for allegedly taking theater tickets for issuing violations on another house in Queens.

“This case represents the fourth major corruption scandal in the New York City DOB within the past decade alone,” commissioner Kuriansky says in a released statement issued following the announcement. “While the earlier probes exposed widespread misconduct in the construction, plumbing and elevator inspection divisions of DOB, this two-year joint investigation has yielded disturbing evidence of a more pervasive culture of corruption that resides both within and without the department and extends, regrettably, to licensed professionals, expeditors and, now, even to commissioner-level personnel.

“Dramatic change,” he concludes, “is required to cleanse and professionalize this agency and to assure the public that its buildings will be safely, speedily and honestly constructed and maintained.” will update this story as it continues to unfold.

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Once you are an ALM digital member, you’ll receive:

  • Unlimited access to GlobeSt and other free ALM publications
  • Access to 15 years of GlobeSt archives
  • Your choice of GlobeSt digital newsletters and over 70 others from popular sister publications
  • 1 free article* every 30 days across the ALM subscription network
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM events and publications

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?


© 2023 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.



Join GlobeSt

Don't miss crucial news and insights you need to make informed commercial real estate decisions. Join now!

  • Free unlimited access to's trusted and independent team of experts who provide commercial real estate owners, investors, developers, brokers and finance professionals with comprehensive coverage, analysis and best practices necessary to innovate and build business.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM and GlobeSt events.
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including and

Already have an account? Sign In Now
Join GlobeSt

Copyright © 2023 ALM Global, LLC. All Rights Reserved.