Sentencing delayed in West Haverstraw home explosion

July 27, 2012 8:41:30 AM PDT
Instead of being sentenced, contractor whose digging team set-off a gas-explosion that leveled a townhouse in Rockland County may file to reverse an earlier guilty plea.

Fidel Padilla entered a guilty plea in May, admitting he was responsible for the January 16th explosion in West Haverstraw.

The blast injured several people, including a utility worker and two volunteer firefighters. Padilla's attorney is now fighting to reverse the plea, saying "he won't allow his client to be thrown under the bus."

The judge gave the District Attorney and Padilla's attorney until August 13 to file a motion to reverse the plea. They are due back in court on August 27.

Padilla, was hired by a subcontractor to install a 2-inch conduit at the Fairgrounds II condiminum complex for the installation of a Verizon Fios fiberoptic cable.

Over several days, FGC Communications, Inc. installed the conduit throughout much of the complex without incident. But on January 16 at approximately 12:15 p.m., workers excavating under Zariello Lane using a pneumatic device called a "mole" or "missile" struck and punctured a gas line. The error was a result of failing to comply with safety standards and the direction of the subcontractor.

The resulting gas leak ignited and sparked an explosion that destroyed the condo unit and seriously damaged several other nearby homes.

Two West Haverstraw volunteer firefighters and two Orange & Rockland Utilities workers, who were evacuating residents and assessing the gas leak, were seriously injured when the explosion occurred.

Padilla had pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree reckless endangerment, while FGC Communications pleaded guilty to first-degree assault.

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