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Subcontractors Charged In Construction Death Lose Bid to Dismiss Case

 Wilmer Cueva, 50, and Alfonso Prestia, 54, were arraigned August 5, 2015 on charges of manslaughter.
Wilmer Cueva, 50, and Alfonso Prestia, 54, were arraigned August 5, 2015 on charges of manslaughter.
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DNAinfo/Ben Fractenberg

MEATPACKING DISTRICT — The two foremen responsible for the construction site where a young worker was killed last year lost a bid on Tuesday to have the charges against them dismissed.

Alfonso Prestia, an employee of Harco Construction, and Wilmer Cueva, an employee of Sky Materials, appeared in State Supreme Court on Tuesday where a judge decided against their attorneys' motion to dismiss their case.

The two men are charged with manslaughter for the death of 22-year-old worker Carlos Moncayo, who was "buried alive" at their construction site at 9-19 Ninth Ave. on April 6, 2015.

READ MORE: Contractors Charged in Death of Worker 'Buried Alive' at Construction Site

The workers were excavating the site, formerly the restaurant Pastis, for developers Aurora Capital Associates and William Gottlieb Real Estate, who are developing the historic building into a Restoration Hardware flagship store.

Moncayo's family is also pursuing two civil suits against Harco Construction and Sky Materials.

Scheduling conflicts prevented Judge Thomas Farber from setting a trial start date, he said, and there was disagreement between Assistant District Attorney Diana Florence and defense attorneys over evidence from a task force that the Department of Investigation and Manhattan DA's office convened after Moncayo's death.

The Construction Fraud Task Force was publicly unveiled, with Florence at the helm, the same day that the charges against Prestia and Cueva were announced.

The construction site at 9-19 Ninth Avenue on April 6, 2015, the day 22-year-old construction worker Carlos Moncayo was crushed to death. Credit: Manhattan DA's Office.

Both sides debated whether to consolidate Cueva and Prestia's cases or have two separate and trials. The attorneys for Harco don't want to have a jury trial, while the DA wants to consolidate the cases before one jury.

The case is due back in court on April 5, nearly a year to the day that Moncayo was killed.

The contractor responsible for the site, Kenneth Hart, had his license suspended by the Department of Buildings after Moncayo's death. A DNAinfo New York investigation found that he had hazardous violations at nearly all of his sites around the city, mostly for the same family of developers.

READ MORE: Contractor Behind Pastis Death Had Hazardous Violations at 7 Other Sites

Hart, who owns Harco Construction, has since had his license restored. It was suspended for just one month, plus five months of probation.