Bellhops, Cooks Used as Fake Construction Safety Managers, Prosecutors Say

By Ben Fractenberg on July 2, 2014 6:34pm 

 Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. announced on Wednesday the indictment of two companies and seven people for falsifying safety inspections at 40 construction sites throughout the city.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. announced on Wednesday the indictment of two companies and seven people for falsifying safety inspections at 40 construction sites throughout the city.
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Getty Images/Mario Tama

MANHATTAN — Two construction companies were charged with recruiting people off Craigslist — including short-order cooks, hairdressers and bellhops — to conduct fraudulent safety inspections at about 40 construction sites throughout the city, investigators found.

NYCB Engineering Group and Avanti Building Consultants hired “interns” off Craigslist who went to construction sites for buildings 15 stories or taller and signed the names of Department of Buildings licensed site safety managers without their knowledge, according to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and New York City Department of Investigation. They also used the name of a deceased site manager, the probe found.

“Forgery is a dangerous substitute for a trained safety manager on a construction site,” DOI Commissioner Mark Peters said in a statement.

Safety managers complete a permit for application, called a “PW2” form, which is filed with the DOB.

They also complete a daily safety log checking for issues like accessibility of standpipes in case of a fire and protecting pedestrians from falling debris.

The investigation started after the DOB discovered Avanti used the name of a dead safety manager.

Investigators then found out the company forged the names of about 10 licensed safety managers on more than 400 safety logs, according to the DOI report.

One safety manager allegedly reported inspecting as many as 14 projects per day, even though the managers are supposed to spend at least two hours per day on sites.

Investigators looked into more than 400 construction sites and ended up issuing 80 violations and 30 stop-work orders.

Some of the construction sites where the fake safety managers inspected include 20 West St. and 119 W. 40th St.

Avanti managers Richard Marini, 60, and Richard Sfraga, 49, face charges including grand larceny and scheme to defraud.

The Avanti “interns” accused of pretending to be safety managers are Brandon Taylor, 38, Besik Kelly, 53, George Tattos, 59, and Vincent Bruzzesse, 70.

NYCB vice president Kishowar Pervez, 40, is also charged with grand larceny and fraud.

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