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

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Mob linked firm booted from Columbia University expansion

The mob-linked demolition company running jobs on which two workers have died as part of Columbia’s West Harlem expansion has been booted from the project, the Daily News has learned.

Brooklyn-based Breeze National, which was demolishing a building on W. 131st St. that collapsed in March, killing one worker and injuring two others, is no longer on the job at the Manhattanville construction site.

Breeze has been doing work at six additional properties on the 17-acre expansion site, according to records.

Juan Vicente Ruiz, Sr., 69, died when a wall of the building came crashing down in March. His family is now suing the Ivy League school, charging the construction site was unsafe.

Inspectors had issued a previous stop work order and assessed Breeze with violations for failing to notify the city that it was starting demolition and failing to properly safeguard the people and property that were affected.

It wasn’t the first time a Breeze National worker died on a Columbia demolition job. Two years ago, 51-year-old Jozef Wilk fell to his death while demolishing a Columbia-owned building on Broadway.

Breeze spokeswoman Sarah Berman declined to comment on the firm’s removal, but said “it has not been deemed they did anything wrong” in connection with the March collapse, adding that the cause was likely a structural defect.

“The investigation is open and ongoing,” she said.

The Red Hook-based firm was headed for years by Luchese crime family associate Toby Romano, who was convicted in 1988 of bribing inspectors to overlook health violations on asbestos-removal jobs. Breeze officials say his son, Toby Romano Jr., now runs the company.

“We do not have a demolition contractor working at the site of the wall collapse at this time since the (demolition) is on hold,” said Mary Costello, a spokeswoman for Lend Lease, the contractor overseeing the Columbia project.

She said demolition work on Breeze’s other sites is completed.

Columbia did not repsond to questions about Breeze, or about the status of the investigation into the collapse.

In all, the school and its contractors have been slapped with at least 59 building code violations and 13 stop work orders since launching the controversial expansion project two years ago.



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