2 arrested after deadly scaffold fall

September 12, 2008 8:11:08 PM PDT
Investigators say a painting company owner told a worker to pose as a qualified scaffold-rigging foreman on a job where a scaffold collapse killed another employee. The owner and worker were arrested on misdemeanor criminal impersonation charges a day after the deadly accident in upper Manhattan.

Classic Painting & Restoration Inc. rigged the scaffold to the building but didn't have a certified rigging foreman on site, as building codes require, the city Department of Investigation said. Instead, company owner Malik Hussain gave a foreman's card to uncertified worker Jinal Patel and told him to show it if asked, investigators said. They said Patel then tried to pass himself off as a certified foreman in the aftermath of Thursday's accident, which killed Miguel Rodriguez, 38.

"The worst thing to do after a fatal construction accident is lie to investigators," DOI Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn said.

The company's telephone rang unanswered Friday night. No telephone numbers could be found for Hussain or Patel, and authorities did not know whether they had lawyers. A Manhattan District Attorney's office spokeswoman said arraignments for the two were expected Saturday.

Hussain, 26, and Patel, 23, face up to a year in prison if convicted. The Department of Buildings has stopped work at the accident site and 28 others Hussain was overseeing.

Authorities determined Rodriguez's safety harness was not tethered to the West 111th Street building.

City officials have said they are cracking down on construction safety after a series of deadly accidents. More than 20 people have died in construction accidents around the city this year, including nine killed in two crane collapses.

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