L&I investigator resigns amid probe

February 18, 2011 12:37:10 PM PST
Action News has learned that an investigator and former deputy commissioner of the Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections has resigned amid an FBI investigation of alleged kickbacks.

Dominic Verdi resigned from his job late Thursday afternoon. His name has been prominently mentioned in a corruption probe.

The FBI is looking into an alleged extortion racket in which bars and restaurants were told to purchase beer from particular establishments to curry favor from the the Department of Licenses and Inspections.

The FBI focus has been on South Philadelphia beer distributor called Chappy's. Financial disclosure documents show the former manager of Chappy's was Verdi's wife.

Sources say Verdi was first questioned last summer. He did not return phone calls from Action News seeking comment.

This investigation has also touched the Philadelphia Police Department. Sources say that, in recent days, the FBI served warrants on the department's tow squad, where they seized the records of not only a detective, but of the police unit, which arranges for the removal of abandoned cars on city streets.

Those sources say the computer of Sgt. Christopher Bee was seized. His lawyer, James Binns, says Bee has been subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury looking into possible kickbacks and payoffs that touch the police department.

"I can assure you that there has been no transfer of services or goods to Sgt. Bee," said Binns.

Auto and salvage companies owned by former policeman Eddie Alfano were hit with search warrants as well, sources said. Alfano is a central figure in the probe. He has long been a major player when it comes to the towing of abandoned carrs off city streets. Calls to his office for comment were referred to his attorney, Fortunato Perri.

"I don't know if he is a primary target. I can say that Mr. Alfano has been involved in successful, legitimate business enterprises for the past 40 years," Perri said. "He intends to fully comply with the government's inquiries at this point."

The FBI also searched and seized records from two strip clubs located on property owned by Alfano.