What to Know
- Construction worker Luis Sanchez Almonte was killed in a wall collapse while working in Brooklyn September 2018
- On Thursday, six people were charged in connection to the incident
- Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez says the death was preventable. He thinks that six people involved put profits ahead of safety
Construction worker Luis Sanchez Almonte was killed in a wall collapse while working in Brooklyn September 2018. On Thursday, six people were charged in connection to the incident.
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez says the death was preventable. He thinks that six people involved put profits ahead of safety.
Almonte died at just 47 years old – smothered by a huge retaining wall at a Sunset Park construction site on a soggy day.
Gonzalez has blamed his death on greed.
“This conduct is not just unacceptable and dangerous, it is criminal,” he said while announcing the indictment of six people.
All six were arrested and hauled into court. They have ties to WAC Group, the construction company that was working on a massive excavation and foundation project on 39th Street. The defendants include owner Jimmy Liu.
“New York City will not tolerate contractors who put workers at risk for their own greed,” Department of Buildings Commissioner Melanie La Rocca said.
Liu and two others face the most serious of charges – that of manslaughter. Investigators say that some of the accused took shortcuts and ignored warnings of sinking and an unstable wall that eventually, and tragically, cost Almonte’s life.
“They ignored repeated warnings from their own workers and neighbors,” Gonzalez said.
After Almonte’s death, DOB and DOI officials dug into WAC Group – allegedly discovering a shell company operation, past misdeeds involving other projects, a former DOB employee who allegedly took bribes from the company and poor management.
“No one acted to protect the workers at the site,” DOI Commissioner Margaret Garnett said.
Court was quick for the defendants as they were let go on their own recognizance. Subsequently, only one defense attorney commented -- calling her client, Paul Bailey, also accused of manslaughter, “a fine man.”
However, the district attorney’s office is steadfast that Almonte’s death could have been prevented.
“I want to make it clear: this was no mistake. This is not an accident what happened,” Gonzalez said. “this is a direct result of owner recklessness.”
Some of the defendants are also facing tax fraud charges. All the defendants are due back in court in February 2019.