- A New York judge has sentenced general contractor Harco Construction to pay the maximum fine of $10,000 in relation to a worker death on one of its projects, according to The Wall Street Journal.
- Harco was convicted of criminally negligent homicide and manslaughter in June for the April 2015 trench collapse death of 22-year-old Carlos Moncayo, and $10,000 is the maximum corporate penalty.
- The sentence was handed down by Justice A. Kirke Bartley Jr., who, in July, first sentenced Harco to pay for print and television public safety ads, an order which Harco refused. Bentley has now allowed Harco to pay the $10,000 fine instead.
The $10,000 fine has drawn criticism from some groups who say it is not enough to keep other companies from engaging in the same negligent behavior that caused Moncayo’s death. In a joint statement, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and city Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark Peters said companies like Harco consider such a relatively paltry fine to be "Monopoly money." Vance said his office would push for an increase in corporate fines in cases of death or serious injury through revision to state law.
A Harco attorney said the original sentence ordering the contractor to pay for a televised and printed English-Spanish public safety announcement campaign would be a violation of the company's First Amendment rights and would be equivalent to an admission of guilt.
Since Moncayo's death, Wilmer Cueva, a foreman for Sky Materials Corporation — Moncayo’s employer — has been sentenced to a maximum of three years in prison for repeatedly ignoring safety warnings prior to the fatal cave-in, and Harco supervisor Alfonso Prestia was sentenced to community service and probation after a jury reached a stalemate in his case. Sky Materials has yet to be tried.
The Harco case has led to increased oversight of safety and other industry-related malfeasance in New York City through Vance's Construction Fraud Task Force. Also contributing to the need for increased vigilance is what Vance characterized as a "staggering amount of construction" in Manhattan.