Buildings commissioner accused of fraud

Two days after a former Mount Vernon planning commissioner was convicted of fraud, new allegations of corruption have surfaced against the city's Department of Buildings commissioner.

Local restaurant owner John Star is accusing Mount Vernon Buildings Commissioner Ralph Tedesco of demanding bribes from businesses in the city. Star says his restaurant, Nollywood 2, was shut down last August after Tedesco refused to honor licenses issued by his department unless he was paid in cash.

"Since he didn't get what he wants from me, he shut me down illegally," Star says.

Star has joined forces with Samuel Rivers, a Democratic district leader, who also filed a lawsuit against Mount Vernon.

"The U.S. attorney?s office [is] the only one that can step in and handle an investigation of this magnitude,? Rivers says.

Star showed News 12 Westchester a copy of his certificate of occupancy, a license issued by the city that, he believes, gives him the right to operate his businesses. However, the mayor?s Chief of Staff Yolanda Robinson says the city has no record of the document. Robinson also adds that Star?s establishment has been cited numerous times.

"The city has every right to shut down an establishment that is in violation of the city's codes and policies,? she says.

The mayor?s office says Star?s complaint has been sent to the inspector general of Mount Vernon, as well as to the Westchester District Attorney?s Office.

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