Friday, March 21, 2008

Inspector Arrested in NYC Crane Collapse

A city inspector has been charged with lying about checking on a construction crane that later collapsed, killing seven people in a dense Manhattan neighborhood.

Edward Marquette, 46, was arraigned and released without bail Thursday on charges of falsifying business records and offering a false instrument for filing.

"We will not tolerate this kind of behavior at the Department of Buildings," buildings Commissioner Patricia Lancaster said at a news conference. "I do not and will not tolerate any misconduct in my department."

Marquette, who earns $52,283 a year as an inspector in the department's division of cranes and derricks, was arrested while being questioned Wednesday night, said Barbara Thompson, spokeswoman for the Manhattan district attorney.

If convicted, Marquette faces up to four years in prison. His lawyer, Kate Moguletscu, had no comment Thursday.

The 20-story crane broke away Saturday from an apartment tower under construction and toppled over, killing six construction workers and a visitor in town for St. Patrick's Day.

A complaint about the crane was logged March 4 to a city hot line, officials said, and Marquette said he inspected it. It was later determined he had not.

Lancaster said it is very unlikely an inspection would have prevented the accident because the equipment that failed was not on site March 4.

In addition to suspending Marquette, Lancaster said, she has ordered a full audit of his inspection reports over the past six months, and also of the cranes and derricks unit.

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