QUEENS — A housing inspector endangered the lives of his tenants by violating the same building codes the city employed him to enforce, the Queens District Attorney’s office announced Tuesday.
Derrick Allen, 58, a Brooklyn inspector for the Department of Housing Preservation and Development who owns two buildings in Queens, was charged Tuesday with illegally converting the cellar space in his Rosedale and St. Albans properties into dangerous living quarters, according to the DA’s office.
The units — hooked up to illegal gas and water lines — lacked adequate exits and natural light, which District Attorney Richard Brown noted made the residencies dangerous not only for tenants, but emergency responders as well.
“Such conversions jeopardize the lives of not only the buildings’ residents but firefighters and other personnel who in responding to an emergency are confronted by a maze of rooms with no way out,” said Brown in a statement.
“As a code enforcement inspector himself, the defendant should have known better.”
The Housing Department first became aware of Allen’s practices as a landlord on Aug. 18 when an illegal tenant in his Rosedale building called 311 to complain about building maintenance, according to the DA.
Housing inspectors arrived one week later to find four illegal single-room residencies in the basement with access to only one exit, as well as a shared kitchen with an illegal gas stove and a bathroom with a hole in the ground where a toilet once stood, the DA said.
Tenants were ordered to vacate the premises immediately due to the unsafe circumstances, the DA said.
Representatives from the Department of Investigation and Department of Buildings looked into Allen’s St. Albans residence on Sept. 1 and found a similar setup, the DA said.
The basement had been converted into a two-bedroom apartment with illegal gas and water lines, and once again there was only one exit.
Allen was expected to be arraigned in Queens Criminal Court Tuesday where he will be charged with one count of reckless endangerment and two code violations. The inspector will face up to one year in jail if he is convicted.
Allen’s attorney and representatives from the Department of Housing Preservation and Development did not immediately respond to a request for comment.