Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Boom not examined when crane at MTA site was OKd for use

A half-baked city inspection, slipshod contracting safeguards and mob corruption were key ingredients in the deadly recipe that led to a hardhat’s death under a falling crane at a subway construction site. 
Investigators suspect a cable on the aging Manitowoc rig snapped and sent two large pieces tumbling down on Michael Simermeyer at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s No. 7 subway extension job site in Manhattan about 7 p.m. Tuesday. 
In the wake of the deadly accident, the MTA shut down the job indefinitely and ordered that cranes operating at all the agency’s job sites be reinspected.
As investigators probed the death of 30-year-old Simermeyer, officials also revealed that the rig was just inspected by the city in January.
“No deficiencies” were noted — despite the fact that Buildings Department inspectors couldn’t fully examine the massive 170-foot boom because it was in use.
It was supposed to be reinspected on Thursday, sources said.
The Buildings Department declined to comment or explain how the 23-year-old crane managed to pass muster with city inspectors. But the city is looking at the crane’s history, the inspection history and how the crane was operated over the last three months, spokesman Tony Sclafani said.
The snapped cable was just the most recent problem for the troubled Yonkers Contracting Co. which was placed on the city’s “caution list” in May 2008. The company got the dubious distinction for racking up “multiple violations” of safety regulations between 2003 and 2008, records show.
Late Wednesday, law enforcement officials seized records from Yonkers Construction’s onsite trailer and the company’s headquarters in Yonkers, sources told The News.
The MTA said it was aware of the Yonkers company’s troubled past when it awarded it a $116 million contract to complete a section of the subway line, but said it was keeping close tabs on the company and subjecting it to extra scrutiny.
Yonkers general manager John Kolaya did not return repeated calls for comment.
Meanwhile, federal safety inspectors and the Buildings Department were at the W. 34th St. and 11th Ave. site looking over the disabled 170-foot crane. Members of the Manhattan district attorney’s office and the city Department of Investigation were also there.
A Daily News review of records found Yonkers has a long checkered history of accidents and mob ties going back to 1992, when then-city Controller Elizabeth Holtzman called the company corrupt:
  • The feds alleged the company made annual $50,000 payments to the crane operators union when it was controlled by the Colombo crime family. The company was not charged and claimed it was a victim.
  • The feds also repeatedly hit the company with citations for job safety problems, including a 2000 accident in which a worker was blown off the Manhattan Bridge to his death.
  • Yonkers Construction was hit with a $5,000 fine for a “serious” violation in May at the World Trade Center site. 
Three other workers were injured in the Tuesday mishap, including 56-year-old Lawrence Anderson, who is Simermeyer’s uncle and the crane operator, officials said.
“The family is grieving,” a woman said at the home of Simermeyer’s mother in Pawling, Dutchess County, where relatives gathered.
Crane accidents have plagued the city in recent years, with nine people losing their lives in two separate incidents in 2008.


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