Increasingly, officials are seeking criminal charges against business owners and managers in connection with workplace fatalities. Now, two men face up to 15 years in prison in connection with a crane collapse in New York City.
James Lomma, owner of New York Crane, and his former mechanic, Tibor Varganyi, have pleaded not guilty to second-degree manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment charges in the deaths of two workers on May 30, 2008.
A weld on a crane’s turntable, that officials say New York Crane had done on the cheap in China, cracked apart, sending the machine’s boom and car plummeting 20 stories to the ground with the driver still in it. The operator and another worker on the ground were killed. A third worker was seriously injured.
The Manhattan District Attorney said Lomma was “motivated by profit,” to make the crane repair on the cheap using a Chinese company.
A lawyer for Lomma’s crane company said they’d fight the charges because no fewer than seven inspectors signed off on the refurbished crane part.
But prosecutors say even the Chinese company warned it wasn’t equipped to do the repair. An e-mail from the company says, “We are afraid the weld we had it not good.”