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A Vote for Precedent: Supervisor Charged with Homicide in NYC Construction Worker’s Death


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Wilmer Cueva, the excavation supervisor overseeing the New York City construction site where a young worker was crushed to death last year, has been charged with criminally negligent homicide. The verdict was handed down Friday, with sentencing scheduled for December 16. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. said companies and managers :

“When construction supervisors take shortcuts, they take chances with their workers’ lives,” said District Attorney Vance. “As proven at trial, Wilmer Cueva ignored repeated warnings about the treacherous state of the excavations he was directing — resulting in the preventable and foreseeable death of Carlos Moncayo, a 22-year-old worker. 

“Today’s verdict again places companies and managers on notice: those who knowingly permit unsafe construction practices will face criminal charges if a worker is injured or dies as a result. I thank the jury for its careful deliberation, and our partners at the Department of Investigation, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and NYPD for their invaluable assistance with the investigation.”

Moncayo was working in an excavation trench in the Meatpacking District when a city safety inspector visited the site and determined the pit was structurally unsound. The inspector ordered workers to evacuate immediately, but the walls collapsed before Moncayo could escape. In response, the city created a construction task force.

Moncayo’s death prompted the city to form a construction task force led by Assistant District Attorney Diana Florence of the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, in collaboration with the city’s Department of Investigation…Florence successfully prosecuted the contractor responsible for the site, Harco Construction, leading to a conviction in June of second-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.

Harco was sentenced to finance a public service announcement in print and video for worker safety, but the company’s lawyer refused to comply with the sentence.

Harco will be back in court in December. Cases are still pending against Alfonso Presti, Harco’s foreman on the job, and Sky Materials, the company for whom Cueva worked.

For more on Harco’s July conviction, read our archived piece.


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