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Inspector Lied About Visiting Building Before Falling Brick Killed Baby: DA

By Emily Frost | November 17, 2015 3:50pm
 Greta Greene, 2, was killed by a brick that fell from the Esplanade. City investigators found the DOB and building owners ignored red flags that could have prevented her death.
Greta Greene, 2, was killed by a brick that fell from the Esplanade. City investigators found the DOB and building owners ignored red flags that could have prevented her death.
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Facebook (inset); DNAinfo/Emily Frost

UPPER WEST SIDE — A building engineer who lied about inspecting the facade of a building from which a brick fell and killed a 2-year-old girl this spring marked one of a host of failures by the city and landlord that contributed to the infant's death, the city's Department of Investigation found. 

Greta Greene, 2, died in May when a brick from the façade of senior luxury residence the Esplanade at 305 West End Ave. fell on her as she sat in a stroller while with her grandmother. 

A host of "ignored red flags" — including a piece of facade that previously fell from the building but went unreported, as well another investigator who referred to the Esplanade's condition as "scary" in correspondence with the city — were also uncovered by the probe.

On Tuesday, the Manhattan District Attorney and the Department of Investigation announced the arrest of the engineer who submitted the fake report regarding an inspection of the building's façade to the Department of Buildings in 2011, when in fact he had never even visited the Esplanade, authorities said. 

Maqsood Faruqi, 55, was charged with a felony that carries a maximum sentence of up to four years in prison for submitting the fake report, according to a spokeswoman for the DA. 

The DOI also found in its report that the Department of Buildings and the owners of the Esplanade were also at fault in Greene's death: 

► Between 2005 and 2007, the DOB issued fines to the Esplanade for failing to have a building inspection, but the DOB never send an inspector to check on the safety of the façade, the report said. 

► In February 2011, Faruqi, who worked for D & N Construction and Consulting, Inc., allegedly filed a false report calling the façade "safe," while the DOI probe found he never visited the building. 

► In March 2014, a piece of façade fell from the Esplanade onto the sidewalk, but the DOB was never informed, the report said. As a result, no inspection happened at the site and no sidewalk shed protecting pedestrians was erected.

► In October of 2014, an inspector investigating the building next door emailed the DOB to say he saw a crack in the Esplanade that he described as "scary," adding "get someone over pretty quick on this,” the report said. However, the DOB took no action and did not require any remedial safety work. 

Greene was with her grandmother, who called the child "the best thing in my life," on May 17, 2015, when the brick fell around 11 a.m.

Greta's parents, Stacy and Jayson Greene, of Kensington, Brooklyn, did not respond to a request for comment regarding the investigation. 

The report also makes the case that there's widespread systemic failure across the city by building owners and the DOB to enforce Local Law 11 — a law mandating the inspection of all façades and marking them either "safe," "unsafe" or "safe with a repair and maintenance program" and requiring scaffolding with each inspection.

The DOI found that there were approximately 1,000 buildings that failed to file façade safety reports, including 101 that were city-owned.

Furthermore, "as of February 2015, 2,490 buildings filed façade inspection reports citing 'unsafe' conditions and by mid-summer less than half filed amended reports stating that the unsafe conditions were corrected," the report states. 

Of the buildings that filed unsafe reports, the DOB strives to inspect 10 to 15 percent of those buildings, a number the DOI found "insufficient."

The report also outlined a number of policy recommendations for the DOB that Mayor Bill de Blasio responded to on behalf of the city agency.

"This investigation has uncovered ways the City can more rapidly remedy the most dangerous situations, improve practices and, hopefully, prevent similar tragedies," he said in a statement. "The City will ensure that property owners meet their obligation to keep their buildings safe.”

D & N Construction did not immediately return request for comment. The Esplanade owners did not immediately comment. Faruqi's lawyer could not immediately be reached. 

Recently, the Esplanade came under fire again from elected officials and residents for kicking out a longtime Alzheimer's care provider and initially giving patients a short time frame in which to move or find new care.

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