May 20, 2013 By Christian Murray and Bill Parry
Long Island City, Queens: The owner of a LIC rock-climbing venue was arrested Thursday for attempting to bribe a public official, according to a New York State criminal complaint filed in Queens County.
Mike Wolfert, 38, the owner of “The Cliffs at LIC”, who is in the midst of converting a warehouse at 11-11 44th Drive into a massive climbing center, was hit with a stop-work order by the Department of Buildings several weeks ago.
Wolfert tried to get the stop-work order lifted by bribing a building inspector, according to the complaint. The complaint said that the building inspector, however, was an undercover investigator who was part of a sting operation.
According to court documents, Wolfert, on April 16, told the investigator: “I can get you cash or whatever; you tell me whatever, I’ll pay it.”
Wolfert paid the investigator $94, the amount he had on him at the time.
However, when the investigator returned two weeks later to tell Wolfert that the stop work order had been lifted, Wolfert told the investigator he had $1,000 for him and asked whether that was good enough.
Wolfert then handed the investigator two envelopes, each containing $500.
The Department of Buildings inspected the premises on April 30 and determined that Wolfert had been working on the property during the period when the stop work order was in place.
Wolfert, of Croton-on-Hudson, faces third-degree bribery charges—a felony. He also was charged with a misdemeanor charge of “unlawful continuance” based on evidence that additional construction had been completed at the site after the stop-work order.
Wolfert was released without bail and did not respond to repeated phone calls.
The Long Island City Partnership has plans for a networking meeting at The Cliffs on Wednesday.
The organization would not comment as to whether the event would still be held at the venue.