Former L&I employee charged with accepting bribes

A former Department of Licenses and Inspections employee was arrested earlier today and charged with accepting kickbacks in exchange for doling out professional trade licenses to unqualified electricians, plumbers and other individuals.

City Inspector General Amy Kurland said in a news release that Thomas Wright, 45, of Smedley Street near 67th Avenue, issued a total of 19 licenses to 12 people between February and September 2007.

Wright was fired that September for "disciplinary reasons" unrelated to the kickback scheme, said L&I spokeswoman Maura Kennedy.

L&I requires plumbers, electricians and other trade professionals to complete a test and pay a fee before they can obtain their professional license. None of the people who obtained licenses from Wright actually took the test, Kurland said. They merely sent a check to the city for the testing fee and paid off Wright -- usually with a couple hundred bucks -- and he doctored records in L&I's databases, she said.

Wright was charged with multiple counts of bribery, tampering with public records and related offenses.