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FBI enter the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board building for "law enforcement activity," reports say

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Travis Lux / WWNO
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The New Orleans Sewage and Water Board main office building.

The FBI entered the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board main office building Friday and conducted "law enforcement activity," according to a report.

"There is no threat to public safety," said FBI spokeswoman Lori Grice to WWL-TV. "As this is an ongoing matter, we are not in the position to comment."

Thursday, an investigative report from WWL showed that employees at the S&WB were taking side jobs during lunch breaks, working without permits and filing permits on behalf of construction companies for reimbursement fees. In one case, an employee, Vernon Marcotte, doubled his salary by signing permits for companies that did not possess the proper documentation.

Marcotte told WWL that he filled out the reports and let master plumbers hook up gas lines because they didn't have their gas fitters license. Marcotte noted that most plumbers didn't have the permit because the task of getting the license was "onerous."

In a statement made this morning, the SW&B said, "Federal agents arrived this morning at our St. Joseph Street office to gain access to records kept within the Sewerage and Water Board’s Plumbing Department. SWBNO is in full cooperation but cannot make any further comments about the pending investigation."

“The Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans leadership condemns any illegal or unethical activity or behavior by any employee,” said Ghassan Korban, the Executive Director of the SW&B.

According to the report, the city is currently scanning all plumbing permits from the SW&B into the city's OneStop database to be searchable by residents. The city will complete the project next year, according to the official.

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