Property owner fined for giving cash to city employee

A Philadelphia man is facing a $2,000 fine for attempting to give cash to a city employee who dismissed some of the man's Licenses and Inspections tickets.

The Board of Ethics announced Monday that Liran Ben Soshan violated the city's ethics code last year when he handed over several cash bills to an administrative review officer who ruled favorably in Soshan's case at the time. The amount of cash was not determined but the examiner who reported the incident, Stephen St. Vincent, said there was at least one $10 bill in the front and several more bills behind it, according to the Ethics Board summary.

On May 21, 2015, Ben Soshan went before the hearing board to appeal three violations that the Department of Licenses and Inspections had issued at two of his properties. The three tickets were for dumpster overflow, dumpster lid not closed, and litter around property.

The monetary penalty for the litter violation ticket issued to the 1807 Widener Place property was $75. The monetary penalty for the two tickets issued related to the dumpster to the 5001 Oxford Ave. property was $350 in total.

After reviewing the case, St. Vincent, who was the hearing officer assigned to the Ben Soshan case, determined that Ben Soshan had presented sufficient evidence to warrant the dismissal of all three violation tickets.

Ben Soshan approached St. Vincent after the hearing and shook his hand.

"As they shook hands, respondent [Ben Soshan] passed Hearing Master St. Vincent multiple cash bills, with a ten-dollar bill on the outside," according to the Ethics Board final determination summary. "Hearing Master St. Vincent immediately dropped the money that respondent tried to pass to him and informed respondent that he could not accept the money."

St. Vincent reported the incident to his supervisor. The case was referred to the Office of Inspector General, which in turn referred it to the Ethics Board.

Cash gifts are prohibited in city government.

Following various hearings and correspondence among all parties, the Ethics Board issued Ben Soshan a $2,000 fine last Tuesday. The fine is due within 35 days.

cvargas@phillynews.com

215-854-5520@InqCVargas