A high-ranking official at the city Department of Licenses and Inspections who has been linked to a federal criminal probe abruptly retired yesterday.

Dominic Verdi, a deputy commissioner who has been on loan to the Police Department to work on the Nuisance Bar Task Force since August 2008, told L&I Commissioner Fran Burns that he was leaving after Burns informed him that he had to return to L&I as a construction-trade inspector, a job that pays almost $50,000 a year less.

"Everyone is innocent until proven guilty, but given the intensity of the investigation and where he was working, the time was now to move him," Burns said last night.

Verdi did not immediately return a phone call for comment last night. Last week, Verdi declined to comment when a Daily News reporter asked him about the FBI investigation.

Burns said that she e-mailed Verdi yesterday, informing him that he had to return to L&I but that because there were "no exempt positions" available, he would be an inspector making $46,676 a year, with about $2,000 extra for seniority. Verdi has been a city employee for 36 years and earned roughly $95,000 as a deputy commissioner.

He decided to retire effective Feb. 28, Burns said.

Burns said the feds have not talked with her about the probe. "I'm aware of an ongoing investigation but I don't know anything more than that," she said.

Federal authorities are investigating alleged corruption involving kickbacks and payoffs that include employees within the Police Department and L&I.

Fox 29 reported that one focus of the investigation is whether bars and restaurants were told to purchase beer from Chappy's Beer, Butts & Bets in South Philly to receive favorable treatment from L&I.

The feds are looking at whether Verdi had any connection to Chappy's, the Inquirer reported yesterday.

Two strip clubs and two towing companies in Southwest Philly are also reportedly part of the probe.

Staff writer Catherine Lucey contributed to this report.