Retail business owners have complained for years about the skyrocketing violations and sky-high fines slapped on them by the Department of Consumer Affairs under Mayor Bloomberg.
But a Daily News investigation shows that the unrelenting ticket blitz is no accident.
Top department officials secretly instituted a quota system several years ago to get inspectors to write more violations, internal agency records obtained by The News show.
Agency inspectors are tracked each month by the number of citations they write. They are urged to “keep numbers high,” and most are expected to maintain a “25% threshold,” the documents show.
That means they should produce an average of one violation for every four businesses they inspect.
One of the most stunning fines uncovered by The News was levied on a Queens discount store, a whopping $14,000 for 14 toy guns that cost the store owner about 65 cents each. The barrels of the orange guns were supposed to be plugged, city officials said.
The News also interviewed more than a half-dozen Consumer Affairs Department employees, who shed light on the city’s clandestine cash cow.
“I was recently given a bad evaluation for not meeting my 25% quota,” one angry inspector told The News. “They want us to look for anything to go after a business.”
The businesses include bodegas, catering halls, discount stores, gas stations and hair-braiding shops. Some have been forced out of business due to staggering violations that often cost owners tens of thousands of dollars.