A Busy Season for Criminal Proceedings Involving Construction Cranes

Two deadly crane collapses in 2008, ignited furious investigations into the world of construction cranes and their safety, or lack thereof. Crane rigger William Rapetti has been indicted for manslaughter. Although not involved in the crane collapses, one investigation led to the guilty plea by James Delayo, the city’s former chief crane inspector, pleaded guilty in March to approving cranes that he had not inspected, and issuing operators licenses to people who had not earned them.

Nu-Way Crane Service owner Michael Sackaris pleaded guilty in May to paying one such bribe. Nu-Way employee Michael Pascalli guilty to a misdemeanor charge of filing a false document in exchange for probation. An inspector in Mr. Delayos unit was indicted on charges of lying about inspecting the East Side crane that fell on March 15, 2008, killing seven people. Last Wednesday, Mr. Delayo was sentenced to six years in prison. He pleaded guilty in March to taking more than $10,000 in bribes to certify cranes that had not been inspected and to overlook unqualified crane operators.

According to reports, Mr. Delayo looked pale and haggard at his sentencing, apparently the result of a severe pulmonary illness, Mr. Delayo supervised crane operations at ground zero in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. The sentencing judge took note of the irony that someone who acted so heroically had also acted so irresponsibly. The judge praised his 9/11 “heroism,” but blasted his “betrayal of public trust.” The manslaughter case against crane rigger William Rapetti is set to go on trial for today. Mr. Rapetti waived the right to a jury trial last week and a judge will now decide his fate. Mr. Delayo apparently chose to avoid the risk of a jury being so inflamed by what happened that the jurors could not hear any of the evidence impartially.

Sentencing of Nu-Way Crane Service owner Michael Sackaris, who bribed Mr. Delayo to certify the safety of cranes that had not been inspected, and Nu-Way employee Michael Pascalli, to whom Mr. Delayo awarded an operator license even though he had not taken the test, is set for July 13. Nu-Way pleaded guilty to bribery and will be fined $10,000.

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