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Former Rigger in Fatal East Side Crane Collapse Loses License

By DNAinfo Staff on July 20, 2011 6:28pm

MANHATTAN — A rigger who was acquitted of killing six workers and a tourist in a horrific 2008 crane collapse in Midtown had his license revoked by the Department of Buildings, the agency announced Wednesday. 

In their findings capping an administrative proceeding, the DOB said William Rapetti, 50, "violated several local and federal laws and professional standards" while operating a tower crane at an East 51st Street construction site on March 15, 2008.

The 400-foot crane buckled and tumbled to the ground at the busy construction site when workers were trying to raise it, destroying a neighboring building in the process.

"We have determined that Mr. Rapetti took shortcuts while erecting the tower crane by using damaged equipment and failing to follow the manufacturer's specific instructions.

These shortcuts sacrificed the safety of the job site and led to the horrific consequences," buildings commissioner Robert LiMandri said in a statement.

Rapetti faced manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and other charges, but was acquitted after a lengthy bench trial by Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Roger Hayes on July 22, 2010.

The crane workers who died were Wayne Bleidner, 51; Clifford Canzona, 45; Brad Cohen, 54; Santino Gallone, 37; Anthony Mazza, 39 and Aaron Stephens, 45. Odin Torres, 28, of Hialeah, Fla., who was staying in a friend's apartment in a neighboring building that was crushed, also died during the event.

Rapetti's attorney, Arthur Aidala, said the DOB's move shows the agency is still trying to "scapegoat" the veteran construction man in an effort to save face for their own failures in not ensuring safety at the crane site.

"It's just an example of their desperation to try to get back their soiled reputation," Aidala said.

Rapetti has been working in construction but not as a rigger since his license was suspended in 2008, Aidala said.

"He's still making a living in the industry. He's so well liked and well thought of — Bill Rapettii's going to do fine," he added.

The lawyer said he did not yet know whether Rapetti would choose to appeal the decision, but the option is available.