This guy is as slippery as a sidewalk hot dog.
A city food-cart vendor dodged $117,300 in health-inspection fines by cooking up a series of phony identities for himself so he could keep getting new licenses — and the Health Department swallowed his trick every time, according to an administrative judge.
Normally, food vendors must pay their fines before they can renew their permit every two years.
But Abdelhakim Hassan Ganash found it was easier — and cheaper — to skip paying the fines and just get a new license under a bogus name, according to an April 12 ruling by administrative Judge Alessandra Zorgniotti.
He used a doctored Social Security card or made tweaks to his name on applications in order to pull the scam three times between 2006 and 2016 — while racking up $117,300 in fines for more than 155 health-code violations, court records show.
Ganash was busted in the scheme in 2012, and the health commissioner at the time ordered “no further license or permit of any kind shall be issued to [him] at any time,” according to Zorgniotti’s ruling.
But Ganash still got a permit in 2016 by using almost the same information from his 2006 application. He put his middle initial down instead of spelling out his middle name and used a different phone number and address.
Zorgniotti recommended that the city yank Ganash’s license — for the second time — but also blamed the Health Department for accepting obviously altered records and failing to better scrutinize applicants.
“DOH’s inability to discern what is false between the various documents is, in part, of its making,’’ the judge said.
The city has been letting street vendors get away with similar schemes for years. Ganash may even live with two other people busted for the scam.
Public records indicate that he shares an Astoria Boulevard address with Mohamed Elsayed, who was caught at the scam in 2011 and owed the city $300,000 in fines in 2014, and Mohamed Ghareb, who was busted in 2012 and 2016 and owes more than $100,000 in health-code fines. No one answered the door or a phone number associated with the apartment Monday.
A Health Department rep said the agency will “tighten the application process,” continue to “revoke licenses that were obtained improperly” and report bad actors to the Department of Investigation.
Additional reporting by Nick Fugallo
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