Just as the Tim Donaghy scandal gave credence to every bad call that ever affected an NBA game, the arrest of a Department of Health inspector for extortion, reported in Newsday this past Thursday, is going to make everybody wonder just why their favorite pizzeria, gastropub, or Chinese restaurant was closed down. The story is exactly what the most cynical observer might expect: A health inspector went into a Brooklyn restaurant, said he could close it because of violations, but also let it be known that he could be bought off. The price of escaping the city’s wrath? $500 and a bottle of tequila. Such shakedowns used to be par for the course in the restaurant business, especially in the outer boroughs, but we haven’t heard many complaints in recent years; it only takes a few, though, to make you wonder.
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