By Greg LaRose | WDSU | August 11, 2021

A former city inspector admitted Wednesday he accepted bribes from a contractor to approve permits for work in New Orleans although the contractor didn’t hold the required city license, according to federal court records.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Brian Medus, a mechanical inspector in the city’s Department of Safety and Permits, accepted money from heating and air-conditioning contractor James Mohamad, who was Kenner’s director of code enforcement at the time.

Mohamad paid Medus and other inspectors $93,000 as part of a scheme to obtain permits, according to an indictment against the two in men filed in April.

Medus pleaded guilty to using cellphones and the city’s internet-based permit system to further the scheme. The federal crime, using an interstate facility with intent to carry on unlawful activity, includes a maximum punishment of five years in prison and fine of up to $250,000.

U.S. District Judge Lance Africk set a Nov. 17 sentencing date for Medus.

Mohamad has a jury trial scheduled for Oct. 25. A guilty plea from Medus could indicate that he will cooperate with prosecutors.

The New Orleans Office of Inspector General, FBI and Metropolitan Crime Commission cooperated in the investigation into Mohamad and Medus.

“The FBI is committed to aggressively pursuing those who violate the trust placed in them by the public and holding them accountable for their actions. Today’s guilty plea sends a clear message that individuals like Mr. Medus who engaged in a bribery scheme, will be held responsible,” Douglas Williams Jr., FBI New Orleans special agent in charge, said in a statement.

“The New Orleans OIG will continue to ensure employees who utilize their public office for personal gain are held accountable for their actions,” interim Inspector General Ed Michel said in a statement.