The owner of the tower crane that collapsed and killed two workers on the Upper East Side of Manhattan in May 2008 pleaded not guilty to manslaughter charges on Monday, according to NY1.com. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. announced the indictment of James Lomma and his companies New York Crane and Equipment Corp. and J.F. Lomma Inc. during a press conference.
Lomma and his company face multiple charges of manslaughter, criminally-negligent homicide, assault and reckless endangerment. Tibor Varganyi, a former mechanic with the company, was also indicted on the same charges. Lomma and Varganyi face 27 years in prison if convicted.
According to the lawsuit, Varganyi allegedly selected a Chinese company to fix the crane's turntable, based on lower cost estimates and shorter repair time. But the Manhattan district attorney said that the company was not fully vetted, according to NY1.com
The repair failed, causing the upper parts of the crane to break off and fall 200 feet to the ground, damaging an apartment building and killing two construction workers. Vance said the tragedy could have been prevented if basic measures were taken.
"Fundamentally, I think the evidence will be revealed that the defendants were deceitful and not candid with the Department [of Buildings] and ultimately what we see as the product of that deceit is the tragic loss of two lives," said the district attorney.
Lomma's company released the following statement: "Jimmy Lomma and NY Crane purchased a bearing from a reputable company in China and had it thoroughly inspected before it was put into use. Among those who signed off on the new bearings was the Dept. of Buildings itself...As the trial will show, what occurred here was an accident and not a crime."