Miami building owner pleads guilty to paying bribes to fire inspector

The owner of a Miami office building pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court to offering $13,000 in bribes to a city fire inspector to make code violations go away.

Dvir Derhy, 46, owner of the Flagler Building Downtown, paid two bribes last summer expecting to resolve the violations for blocked exits at the property. Derhy, who is free on bond, is scheduled to be sentenced to a short prison sentence on Aug. 26 before U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke.

Federal prosecutor Harry Wallace said he would not oppose a request by Derhy’s defense attorneys, Andrew Levi and Bruce Lehr, to lower his sentence to one month in prison — with additional time possibly served under home confinement. The prosecutor also said Derhy also faces a $250,000 fine.

According to his plea agreement, Derhy acknowledged that a year ago he attempted to bribe a city fire inspector over violations for having “obstructed” exit doors in his office building at 223 East Flagler St.

“On one such occasion, Derhy tried to slip money into the inspector’s shirt pocket and stated that it was for a ‘donation to the city,’’’ according to a factual statement filed with the plea agreement. The inspector reported the bribe attempt to authorities.

After Derhy made the offer, a different city fire inspector and an FBI undercover agent posing as one met with the building owner on July 18, 2014, to discuss the violations, the statement said. Derhy gave the fire inspector and agent an envelope containing $10,000 during the audio- and video-recorded meeting.

“In exchange for the money, the fire inspectors were supposed to clear the violations concerning the exit doors of the Flagler Building without Derhy fixing the obstructed means of egress as stated on the notice of violation that he had previously received,” said the statement, which was signed by the defendant, his lawyers and the prosecutor.

“The fire inspector and undercover agent both explained to Derhy that they could get into trouble and that the bribe payment was illegal,” the statement said. “Derhy stated that he understood, and he continued to offer money to the fire inspector and the undercover agent.”

A few days later, the agent called Derhy and said he had come up with a “plan of action” for the code violations at his building but there were still “two hiccups in the road” — a work permit and backdating of paperwork.

Derhy agreed to meet with the agent at his downtown buidling. “On my end I don’t need any paper,” Derhy was recorded telling the agent. “I just want that no one will call me or send me a violation.”

He then, according to the statement, paid an additional $3,000 in cash to the agent to “clear everything.” Last August, FBI agents questioned Derhy, who admitted that he made the bribe payments to have the code violations removed from his building.