Apparently it’s not sufficient that an inspector makes a phantom inspection of a Manhattan construction site crane that subsequently collapses, killing 7 people, injuring another 24 people, destroying a building, and causing untold other horrors.
An investigation by New York State’s inspector general has found that a Crane Operator Examining Board examiner issued more than 200 improper certificates to operators even though they had failed their practical exams. Examiner Frank Fazzio even improperly issued himself a crane certificate. He has been removed from the Crane Board.
The investigation was prompted by an allegation that certificates were being unfairly denied to non-union crane operators. The inspector general’s office found that state labor officials were notified about 42 improperly issued crane certificates in 2004, but failed to act. Also, investigators found that the agency’s testing controls were poor, noting that board members grade exams and decide appeals of their own decisions.
Mr. Fazio also gave false testimony as an expert witness at a 1999 crane board hearing, officials said. Although he “may have committed criminal acts,” it appears Fazzio will not be charged because the alleged crimes occurred too long ago, the inspector’s general’s office said.
The licenses of 197 unqualified crane operators were suspended in November as a result of the investigation. They were permitted to retake the test. The Labor Department said 75 have retaken it and 38 have passed.
The phantom inspection of the crane that collapsed on March 16, 2008, was made by city inspector Edward Marquette. He has been charged with lying that he had checked on the construction crane when in fact he had not. The inspector was charged with falsifying business records and offering a false instrument for filing. If convicted, he faces up to four years in prison.
It is not believed that the absence of the inspection caused the crane to fall. Amongst those temporarily displaced (some were unfortunately totally displaced) from the collapse was Jane Jarvis, the former organist for the New York Mets.
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