The city has used a brand new law to ban a rogue engineer for faking construction plans - but a loophole in Buildings Department rules let the alleged mastermind off scot-free.
Phony plans for buildings slip through city loophole
The Buildings Department barred licensed engineer Leon St. Clair Nation from city work on Jan 15.
It was the first time Buildings Commissioner Patricia Lancaster invoked a state law enacted in September giving her the power to prohibit architects and engineers found guilty of filing false documents from working in the city.
In trying to go after higher-ups in the scheme, the department claimed expediter Hershy Fekete showed building owners how to save time and money by fudging plans, then hired Nation to rubber-stamp them.
Administrative Law Judge Kara Miller shot that down, saying Fekete could not be punished because the department has no rules governing so-called expediters, who help engineers and architects navigate city regulations.
"Expediters are not governed by professional code," Miller ruled, adding it would be "unreasonable to hold them to the same standard."
Buildings Department senior counsel Stephen Kramer said the agency is exploring ways to close the loophole.
Nation submitted the bogus paperwork under the department's self-certification process, in which plans are approved without prior review.