Construction company and foreman charged with reckless endangerment in 2019 scaffolding tragedy

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The Brooklyn District Attorney on Friday filed criminal charges against a scaffolding company and foreman involved in a 2019 incident in which unsecured scaffolding fell into an adjacent restaurant patio, seriously injuring a patron eating brunch below.

Williamsburg, Brooklyn-based company Silvercup Scaffolding and one of its foremen, Zeke Fagan, 26, have both been charged with misdemeanor charges of reckless endangerment and criminal mischief. Fagan faces a maximum sentence of 364 days.

Both were arraigned in Brooklyn Superior Court on Friday morning and are ordered to return to court in August. Under New York law, corporations can be charged with crimes, and in this case fines would be the possible punishment.

Prosecutors alleged that the scaffolding of a luxury apartment under construction at 243 Fourth Avenue was left unfixed for several days, resulting in it being blown off the roof on the morning of June 30, 2019.

As THE CITY reported in March, after the disaster, the building‘s developer, 243 Development LLC, hired politically savvy attorney Frank Carrone to lobby the city’s building department and investigate violations of the law. Carrone is now chief of staff to Mayor Eric Adams.

Records show that one of the LLC’s members, Dean Brodsky, was the site safety manager and that the LLC itself was subpoenaed for failing to notify the DOB of the accident. The violation was eventually marked as “resolved” without the LLC having to pay a penalty.

The scaffolding fell 12 stories, falling on 32-year-old Haley Keating, an aspiring chartered accountant who was celebrating a promotion at the restaurant next to the condominium site. She sustained severe brain injuries and still suffers from regular seizures.

The city’s Department of Investigation (DOI) launched an investigation, and Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez brought the case before a grand jury.

“This is a tragedy that should never have happened,” Gonzalez said, adding that the collapse “had a devastating effect on a young woman who will suffer the consequences for the rest of her life.”

DOI Commissioner Jocelyn Strauber called the debacle “entirely avoidable” and accused the foreman and company of “knowingly failing to secure or remove roof scaffolding that posed a serious hazard.”

Prosecutors say about two weeks before the collapse, a stucco company removed ties holding the scaffolding in place while they made repairs. The company told prosecutors that it “immediately” informed the general contractor‘s site manager that the scaffolding needed to be removed.

Fagan was informed of this on June 14, but the scaffolding was never properly dismantled, according to the indictment. On June 30, high winds caught nets on the scaffolding and lifted the entire unit off the roof, causing it to fall into the backyard seating of the restaurant next door.

Several players were aware of this

The Keating family is suing 243 Development, Brodsky, Silvercup, the stucco company and the general contractor. Her attorney, Dylan Braverman, has uncovered a series of communications leading up to the collapse, suggesting several players were aware for several days that the scaffolding was bound to come down.

On June 14, the general contractor sent photos to a Silvercup employee via Whatsapp, which showed the scaffolding without the tie rods. The general contractor wrote: “Scaffolding is breaking apart on the bulkhead. Send guys to start dropping it.”

But that same day, Brodsky, the site’s safety manager and a member of the LLC, ordered the skilled workers to dismantle the scaffolding to turn to other “more important” work. As a result, another day passed with the unsecured scaffolding remaining on the roof.

In an affidavit filed in response to the lawsuit, Brodsky said his “duties as onsite safety coordinator did not include inspecting the scaffolding” and that prior to the collapse, he had “no knowledge of unsecured scaffolding on the roof or its back anchoring.” have been removed from the bulkhead as claimed.”

Aaron Twersky, Silvercup and Fagan’s attorney, sent a statement to THE CITY late Friday criticizing the charges as “overstatement” by prosecutors.

“Sometimes an accident is just that: an accident,” Twersky wrote. “The facts – not the allegations – will reveal what really happened and the truth. The indictment today is a clear exaggeration by the District Attorney to garner headlines and press, with little value for truth and reality.”

Attorneys for Brodsky and 243 Development did not respond to THE CITY’s request for comment.

On Friday, Carrone said he had a “very limited” role in representing 243 Development LLC in relation to the DOB violations and was not involved at all in the criminal investigation.

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