New York City building inspectors reportedly discovered an illegal excavation underneath what looked like a backyard patio.
The New York Daily News reported Friday that the New York City Department of Buildings busted a building owner, identified as Joseph Ienco, who had dug seven feet down into the backyard and covered it up with fake grass and patio furniture.
Building inspectors responded to a complaint Monday and were stunned to see the fake floor and the gigantic hole in the West Village backyard.
Sources told the paper that the dig threatened the building and its neighbors. Ienco didn’t have a digging permit and the entire operation was shut down.
“This case shows the depths to which bad actors will sink or, in this case, dig to evade the law,” Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler told the Daily News. “This illegal excavation greatly endangered the lives of workers and the public, and could have triggered a deadly collapse bringing neighboring properties down with it.”
Ienco was cited for several safety violations. Sources told the paper that inspectors also found day laborers hiding inside the house and inside a moving truck that was used to ship out debris.
Ienco has denied any wrongdoing.
Brian Flynn, an engineer whom Ienco hired to get back into compliance with city inspectors, told the paper that Ienco wanted to add more head room to the shallow basement.