The U.S. Department of Justice plans to prosecute the owner of a Philadelphia roofing company for alleged crimes that the government claims led to the death of a construction worker.
James J. McCullagh, owner of James J. McCullagh Roofing Inc., allegedly lied to U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigators in an attempt to cover up his company’s failure to provide required fall protection for a man — Mark T. Smith — who died after falling 45 feet from a church roof in 2013. Two other workers said no fall protection was provided.
The indictment, handed up by a federal grand jury, also charges McCullagh with obstruction of justice and with willfully violating OSHA’s safety regulations for scaffolds. McCullagh could face 25 years in prison and a $1.5 million fine.
The DOJ rarely prosecutes employers for on-the-job deaths. In fact, the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health reported that in 2014, grand juries indicted just two company executives for workplace fatalities. Neither of those involved construction workers.
Last month, however, another jury convicted the owner and manager of a California construction company, U.S. Sino Investment Inc., of involuntary manslaughter following the 2012 cave-in death of a 36-year-old worker. The owner was also convicted of three felony labor code violations for causing an employee's death through negligence.