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Officials Indicted for Allowing a Fast Food Joint Teeming With Rats in New York to Function

Third Word Officials may take heart. Their counterparts in the Health department of the much-vaunted New York have been blamed for allowing// a fast-food joint swarming with rats to continue to function.

The city health inspector responsible for the “shoddy audit” resigned Monday.

The infestation, which was captured on videotape, created a national stir and prompted increased enforcement of health code rules at city eateries. Only after the tape was aired, the restaurant was closed down.

According to the New York City Health Department Web site, the KFC/Taco Bell restaurant has been cited for rat or mice problems no fewer than four times in the past three years.

Last year, the restaurant was cited for 14 violations, including inadequate personal cleanliness; evidence of roaches or live roaches present in the facility's food; and evidence of mice or live mice present in the facility's food and/or non-food areas.

The Department of Investigation, found plenty of shortcomings such as the city's lacking an "adequate mechanism" to respond to repeated restaurant complaints and focusing too heavily on signs of rodent activity rather than conditions that fostered infestations.

"After a thorough investigation, DOI found a disturbing lack of diligence on the part of the public health sanitarian who inspected the restaurant as well as a breakdown in the supervision of the inspector," DOI Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn said.

The DOI said the inspector, Cemone Thomas, "underreported the rodent-related findings and failed to take proper action ... which constituted a 'gross dereliction' of her duties."

On Feb. 22, Thomas documented only 87 rat droppings and didn't cite an additional 20, which would have caused the restaurant to fail the inspection and could have forced it to close immediately, the DOI noted.

The very next day the rodent invasion was captured on camera.

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