Spring Valley code enforcement officer allegedly abused his authority

March 4, 2003

By Jim Fitzgerald

Associated Press Writer

New City, New York - An official in a Rockland County village allegedly
used his influence over building permits to force local businesses to
reward him and his relatives with ill-gotten gains ranging from a motor
vehicle to a truckload of dirt.

The case, said state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, "gives us an
unfortunate window into the way local government is operated."

Howard Hoehmann, Jr., 44, a code enforcement officer in Spring Valley,
was arrested Tuesday and arraigned in Rockland County Court on charges
including extortion, grand larceny and official misconduct. Orders of
protection were granted to four of the potential witnesses against him.

At a news conference afterward, Spitzer said Hoehmann "denied
certificates of occupancy and building permits to those who would not
satisfy his specific demands. In several cases he required that people
take business to relatives of his. In another case he required that
dirt be removed from a job site and that dirt mysteriously showed up on
his property."

Spitzer also said Hoehmann duped a resident into turning over a vehicle
to him, demanded the valuable copper pipes and oak beams from a
demolition project and punished those who resisted him by targeting
them for building code violations and stop-work orders.

If convicted of the charges, Hoehmann could be sentenced to up to 15
years in prison.

His lawyer, Kevin Conway, said, "My client is innocent of the charges
and we will vigorously contest each of the charges in court."

Spitzer said his office had joined District Attorney Michael Bongiorno
on the case because "Anytime a government official abuses his position,
it's a violation of the sacred trust that every one of us in government
has to the public." He compared that violation to recent cases of
brokerage houses deceiving investors and churches deceiving

Copyright © 2003, The Associated Press




In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only. [Ref. http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml]

Back to Current Edition Citizen Review Archive LINKS Search This Site