Bogus OSHA Agent Held in Extortion Try
A Long Island, NY, man has been charged with impersonating a federal safety inspector to try to extort money from a construction company owner.
Keith F. Doherty, 42, of Levittown, tried to pass himself off as an inspector for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in order to shake down the owner of a local construction company, Nassau County Police say.
Police said Doherty showed up at a construction site four times in three days last month and demanded cash from the company owner, 57, in exchange for overlooking alleged health and safety violations at the site.
The victim called police, and Doherty was arrested Sept. 20 when he arrived at the site for the fourth time.
Doherty is charged with two counts of Grand Larceny 4th Degree (Extortion), one count of Grand Larceny 4th Degree (Attempted Extortion), and three counts of Criminal Impersonation 2nd Degree. He was arraigned Sept. 21.
Doherty is not the first enterprising defendant to attempt to profit from a fictional OSHA connection.
A Louisiana woman is now serving nearly five years in prison for passing herself off as an OSHA trainer and charging unemployed immigrants thousands of dollars for sham training classes.
In 2010, a California woman was charged with 50 felony counts of grand theft, burglary, diversion of labor funds, and theft by false pretenses after allegedly bilking companies of more than $500,000 in a bogus inspection scheme.
Legitimate OSHA inspectors carry appropriate identification and do not ask for payment during an inspection. An OSHA Fact Sheet explains more.
In 2007, a California man was charged after presenting himself as a Cal/OSHA inspector at various worksites and offering to "forgive" violations for cash.
In 2000, an ex-felon named Mark Dwayne Jackson tried to shake down several minority-owned businesses in Los Angeles County by posing as a Cal/OSHA inspector and demanding cash to keep quiet about non-existent safety violations, authorities said.
A similar scam in Arizona spurred a statewide alert by that state's occupational safety and health office at one point.
OSHA notes that its inspectors carry identification and never demand payments for violations at the scene. Other information on OSHA inspections is available here.