NY Contractor Nailed on 2015 Fatal Cave-In

     MANHATTAN (CN) — Reckless corporate conduct contributed to construction site cave-in that killed a 22-year-old worker in the Meatpacking District last year, a judge found Friday, convicting a New York contractor of criminal charges.
     Carlos Moncayo had been working on April 6, 2015, when an unsecured trench at the 9-19 Ninth Ave. construction site collapsed and crushed him.
     The site had been two blocks away from the new location of the Whitney Museum of Art and one block from the southbound entrance of the High Line, the popular park built over long-defunct elevated train tracks.
     Both tourist attractions lured extensive development that reinvigorated an already fashionable neighborhood springing up in the formerly industrial area.
     After months of investigation, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance filed an August indictment against four defendants — two companies and two men — for manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment.
     Following a bench trial before Justice Kirke Bartley, Manhattan-based general contractor Harco Construction LLC, also known as H&H Builders, was found guilty today on all three counts.
     Vance’s office said Harco had been the first of the defendants to go to trial.
     “Carlos Moncayo’s death at a Manhattan construction site may have been foreseeable and preventable, but his family can be assured that it will not be in vain,” the DA said in a statement. “Today’s guilty verdict should signal to the construction industry that managing a project from afar does not insulate a corporation or general contractor from criminal liability.”
     In a nod to the “remarkable” strength of Moncayo’s family, Vance noted that the late worker’s mother traveled to New York from Ecuador at “great personal sacrifice and, over the past several weeks, the family has endured days of grueling testimony about the horrific death of a loved one buried alive in an unsecured trench more than 13 feet deep.”
     Today’s convictions show Vance’s office may have turned a corner from previous, unsuccessful prosecutions against construction companies, executives and workers.
     His prosecutors brought and lost high-profile cases against New York Crane mogul James Lomma and four defendants accused of negligence in the 2007 Deutsche Bank fire.
     Three other defendants still have open cases related to Moncayo’s death: Harco’s senior superintendent Alfonso Prestia; excavation subcontractor Sky Materials Corp; and Sky foreman Wilmer Cueva.
     They will appear in court for a hearing June 28.

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