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Sewerage and Water Board plumbing investigation series

WWL-TV’s exclusive series exposed plumbers, gasfitters and government inspectors engaged in a web of self-dealing, leading directly to an FBI raid on a state agency.

NEW ORLEANS — David Hammer's investigation into the Sewerage and Water Board's plumbing department led the FBI to raid that department just hours later. 

The reports laid out a complex web of self-dealing, in which Sewerage & Water Board plumbing inspectors, city gas inspectors and contractors use each other's licenses and inspect each other's jobs.

The reports had an immediate and powerful impact on the Sewerage & Water Board and on an ongoing federal corruption probe. In addition to the nearly unprecedented FBI raid of government offices, the Sewerage & Water Board suspended the two top officials identified in the WWL-TV report. The city also suspended their contractor's licenses, along with those of other gasfitters who were involved. A city permitting official was forced to resign. The state board regulating contractors revoked the contractors' licenses, too. And the Sewerage & Water Board executive director acknowledged he had not understood the "enormity" of the issues until WWL-TV's stories and promised a full investigation. He also agreed to overhaul the Plumbing Department to make it more accessible and user-friendly.

 Here are the stories from Hammer's investigation "Hidden Dangers." 

  1. Main Article and 3-part TV videos:
  2. FBI raid coverage:
  3. City inspector resigns, loses licenses:
  4. Suspended SWB official's permits altered: 
  5. S&WB director didn’t realize ‘enormity’ of problem:
  6. FBI raid leads to embezzlement charge against former S&WB plumbing official 

RELATED: Building inspectors, contractor being arrested for allegedly falsifying reports

RELATED: S&WB director says he didn't know about major problems in plumbing department until WWL report

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