A Woodbury man who operates a Queens restaurant was arrested and charged Tuesday with allegedly trying to bribe his way into a top cleanliness rating for the establishment, the New York City Department of Investigation said.
Mohammad Safi, 62, who operates Farm Fried N Curry Chicken at 120-20 Merrick Boulevard, was arrested after a DOI investigation revealed he tried to pay off an undercover investigator — posing as a Department of Health and Mental Hygiene inspector who was performing a routine survey of his restaurant — the agency said in a news release.
He faces two charges of third-degree bribery, a felony punishable by up to seven years in prison.
Safi, a Bronx man and Queens man were all charged as part of a DOI investigation after, authorities said, the restaurant operators tried to bribe an undercover investigator posing as an inspector who had found health code violations at their establishments.
“DOI’s investigation found that these defendants were as dirty as their restaurants, offering bribes to health inspectors to look the other way at their eateries’ unsanitary conditions, according to the charges,” said Mark G. Peters, DOI commissioner. “However, in New York City, you can’t clean up a dirty restaurant with a bribe.”
Safi’s attorney was not available for comment early Tuesday evening.
Authorities said Safi offered an envelope containing money to an inspector — who declined and reported the incident — and again last May to an undercover investigator who pointed out violations of the health code including “uncovered garbage cans, a broken sink faucet, and staff touching food with their bare hands,” according to the DOI.
Safi handed the undercover investigator an envelope containing $200 and asked that he be given the coveted “A” rating despite the violations, officials said.
“Underhanded bribery schemes and back door dealings have no place in Queens County,” Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said. “Diners can rest assured that the dining grades posted at eateries are influenced only be legitimate inspections.”