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Manager Gets 1-3 Years for Safety Fraud

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

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The manager of a construction site safety inspection consultancy in New York City will spend one to three years in state prison for fraudulent inspections.

Richard Marini, 62, of Avanti Building Consultants, was recently sentenced for his role in facilitating dozens of fraudulent inspections and falsifying more than 450 documents, according to an announcement by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr.

site manager
©iStock.com / John Gomez

Instead of hiring qualified safety managers to access building construction sites in Manhattan, Richard Marini used Craigslist to hire "interns" to sign safety logs, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors say Marini directed short-order cooks, hairdressers, bellhops and others without safety training or licenses to go to various construction job sites to impersonate licensed site safety managers.

Marini pleaded guilty to Grand Larceny in the Second Degree following an investigation into construction site safety fraud at 40 Manhattan construction sites, including luxury high-rise apartment buildings, according to the DA.

In addition to the prison sentence, Marini was also ordered to pay $610,000 in restitution. He, along with other individuals involved, were indicted in July 2014. The Department of Investigation’s report on the probe is available here.

The other individuals indicted in connection with the investigation have all been convicted of various related crimes, the DA said.

Impersonating Site Safety Managers

According to documents filed in court, Marini managed a consulting company called Avanti Building Consultants, based in Staten Island, which purported to offer the services of licensed site safety managers to conduct inspections for ongoing construction projects.

forgery
©iStock.com / tzahiV

“Forgery is a dangerous substitute for a trained safety manager on a construction site,” said DOI Commissioner Mark G. Peters.

However, instead of assigning qualified managers to assess site safety conditions, he used Craigslist and similar online recruitment sites to find other individuals to do the work.

He hired individuals with various backgrounds, including eBay vendors, window treatment specialists and even a musician, to impersonate site safety managers, prosecutors said.

The individuals were directed to go to construction sites and sign safety logs using their names (as “interns”) or names of licensed site safety managers that Marini provided. Many of the managers were unaware their names were being signed on the logs, prosecutors said.

In some instances, the so-called interns signed the name of a deceased site safety manager, court documents stated.

Uncovering the Fraud

The scheme, which had been in play since 2012, was discovered in 2014, when a NYC Department of Buildings inspector noticed the signature of a deceased safety manager on a safety log months after his death, the New York Daily News reported. The case was then referred to authorities, the report said.

“All too often, lapses in safety procedure only become apparent after a tragedy occurs,” District Attorney Vance said in a statement.

DA Cyrus Vance
Official portrait

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance noted that the case should serve as a warning to those who attempt to cut corners.

“As a result of … Marini’s criminal conduct, more than 40 active construction sites were left unsupervised and unchecked by qualified inspectors. Fortunately, the fraud was uncovered before anyone was harmed.”

At the time of the indictment, DOI Commissioner Mark G. Peters said: “Forgery is a dangerous substitute for a trained safety manager on a construction site.”

Vance noted that the case should serve as a warning to those who might seek to cut corners to turn a quick profit in the booming New York City real estate market.

   

Tagged categories: Accidents; Consultants; Criminal acts; Enforcement; Health and safety; Inspection; Managers

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