Do You Think a Plea Bargain Was Appropriate for Taking Bribes to Fake Crane Inspections?

Last week New York City’s former chief crane inspector, James Delayo, admitted that he took “more than $10,000” in bribes to fake inspections and overlook unqualified crane operators. Prosecutors have said Delayo’s individual payoffs ranged from $200 to $3,000. Delayos crimes are said to be unrelated to the two fatal crane collapses that occurred in 2008. Delayo’s plea deal shaved his prison time from seven years to just two to six years. A good deal for him, but what message does it send?

The money he took helped only him, but the phony inspections put the public in mortal danger. It’s probably purely fortuitous that the fatal crane accidents did not involve Delayos crimes. Unless proving the crimes would have been difficult or Delayos plea is contingent upon information he already provided or will be provided to authorities, it is hard to justify the potentially short prison time he will serve. We’ll see if the press is diligent about reporting when he is released from jail. On March 8, 2010, two individuals and two corporations were indicted on criminally negligent homicide, manslaughter and other charges related to the May 30, 2008, crane collapse. Will they also get off the hook with a plea bargain? It will be much tougher, in that case, I expect, given the 2 fatalities, multiple injuries and vast property damage from that accident.

A little more than two years after the first of two 2008 fatal crane collapses, a crane left in an upright position after hours tilted forward on March 27, 2010, and hit a 25-story building near Wall Street, sending part of the building’s facade plummeting to the ground and causing several evacuations. Fortunately, there were no injuries. A witness said it sounded like something being thrown into an empty dumpster but lasting much longer. The crane had been brought to the area on Saturday to lift mechanical equipment to the roof of the building Although a final determination on the cause of the accident still has to be determined, a New York City Department of Buildings spokesman said it appeared the improper position of the crane contributed to the incident. The operator of the crane had his license suspended Sunday because he didn’t secure the crane properly, the spokesman said.

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