A “staggering amount of construction” in Manhattan has led to the creation of a Construction Fraud Task Force that will identify and prosecute corruption in New York City’s construction industry, the district attorney’s office announced on Wednesday.
The task force includes five city agencies and will investigate “wrongdoing and unsafe practices” at construction sites, including fraud, bribery, extortion, money laundering, bid rigging, larceny and safety violations.
Those infractions “threaten the integrity of the industry and the safety of the city,” District Attorney Cyrus Vance said in a statement. The city’s Business Integrity Commission, one of the task force partners, also issued a statement. “The fraud that too often accompanies these multi-million dollar projects… illegally siphons off funds, limiting the building power of our city,” the statement said.
The statements came on the same day that Vance’s office announced the indictments of the construction managers and the companies they worked for in the April death of a worker who died when an unsecured trench collapsed and crushed him.
Wilmer Cueva of excavation subcontractor Sky Materials Corp. and Alfonso Prestia of Harco Construction, a general contractor, “ignored repeated warnings that they were not following safe practices,” according to the DA's statement. They were charged with second-degree manslaughter, reckless endangerment and criminally negligent homicide for “recklessly disregarding their professional responsibility to protect workers,” the statement said.
The victim, Carlos Moncayo, a Sky employee, was 22.
The task force, Vance said, is part of a citywide effort to “hold accountable those who are indifferent to the dangerous construction practices endangering their workers and all New Yorkers.”