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Queens restaurateur faces bribery charges

The city's Department of Investigation announced the arrest of a Forest Hills restaurant operator who allegedly paid a bribe to avoid receiving summonses for health code violations.

Tsen Bin Si, operator of King Wok Restaurant at 108-29 Ascan Ave. in Forest Hills, is facing felony bribery charges after he allegedly paid a $260 bribe to a DOI undercover investigator posing as a restaurant inspector for the city Health and Mental Hygiene Department, said DOI Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn last Friday. Si was arrested on bribery charges and faces up to seven years in prison if convicted, Gill Hearn said.

After a Health Department inspector who had previously visited the restaurant reported to the DOI that Si had allegedly offered a bribe, Gill Hearn's agent went to King Wok last Thursday, the DOI said.

The DOI undercover agent, posing as another health inspector, noted Si's name and photo on the restaurant's food protection certificate and allegedly pointed out several health code violations, including mouse droppings, uncovered food in a refrigerator and employees who wore no gloves while preparing food, according to the criminal complaint filed with the Queens district attorney's office's public integrity bureau, which is to prosecute the case.

Si allegedly asked the undercover agent how much money he could pay, then gave the agent $260 to ignore the violations, Gill Hearn said.

"Because corruption of health inspectors could harm the public, DOI investigators have spoken with all health inspectors and have instructed them to report all bribe offers to DOI," Gill Hearn said. "This case shows that the message has been received, and the health inspector who stood up for his own integrity is to be commended."

Reach reporter Alex Christodoulides by e-mail at achristodoulides@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 155.

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