July 16, 2016
By Silver Krieger
New York, NY – Supporters on the side of Carlos Moncayo, the undocumented construction worker killed in April 2015, reacted with shock and anger Wednesday, July 13 th , when Judge Kirke Bartley handed down what they felt was a lenient sentence to general contractor Harco Construction.
The 22 year-old was killed when an unshored 14-foot trench caved in on him at a Ninth Avenue site. In June of this year, Harco was found guilty of manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, and three of four counts of reckless endangerment.
The penalty imposed was a conditional discharge, requiring Harco to pay for a televised and print worker safety ad campaign that would run in English and Spanish in the late summer or early fall, as had been requested by the DA. The judge spoke for a moment before pronouncing
the sentence, saying that Moncayo was a “young man who went to work with hope, dreams, and aspirations of life in America,” and said that while “the law is powerless to give him back to his family,” the PSA’s would perhaps save lives, and thus some good could come from the tragedy.
Before the sentencing, members of Moncayo’s family presented an impact statement to the judge, expressing their grief at the loss of a “good son and good brother…a young man full of life,” who died due to “an accident that could have been avoided.” They asked for the judge to
impose the maximum sentence possible, and for the Public Service Announcements, “so that other families could avoid the pain we will go through for the rest of our lives.”
In one of twenty-two letters to the judge in the case, Gary LaBarbera, President of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, wrote that the guilty verdict gave the Court, “a critical opportunity to change the course of this deadly trend by imposing the maximum sentence permissible under the law upon the convicted company,” and that “this industry must know that every worker’s life is protected by the highest possible standards for construction site safety and training.”
Harco’s counsel, Ronald Fischetti, responded to the sentencing in the courtroom by telling the judge that Harco would not comply with the order to produce the public service announcements, saying that it was not Harco but the subcontractor that was responsible for the conditions that led to the accident. If Harco does refuse, Judge Bartley said it would be liable to pay a $10,000 fine.
In a post-sentencing press conference, members of unions and other groups that came together in support of the Moncayo case against Harco, expressed sadness and outrage at the penalty, and anger at Harco’s defiance.
Santos Rodriguez, of the NYC Building Trades Council, said he was saddened, and that the sentence showed that “Carlos Moncayo’s life doesn’t mean anything,” beyond the “cost of doing business,” to the company. Dennis Lee, of LIUNA Local 79, Construction and General Building Laborers, said: “This stinks. Latinos are not disposable.”
Nadia Marin-Molia, Associate Director of NYCOSH, the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health, commented that, “[Harco’s] lawyer openly stood there and said they will defy the judge. Can you imagine how they are treating their workers every day on the job?”