Department of Buildings inspector Edward J. Marquette has been arrested for allegedly faking records to falsely claim that he had inspected the crane that collapsed at 303 East 51st Street on Saturday, which killed seven people, leveled one building and damaged several others.
Marquette is charged with two felonies: falsifying business records and offering a false instrument for filing. If convicted, he faces up to four years in prison.
On March 4, the DOB received complaints that the crane was insecurely braced on the building. Marquette allegedly falsified a March 4 inspection of the crane, which reported that it was erected according to DOB-approved plans.
DOB commissioner Patricia Lancaster says that while she believes Marquette’s actions are reprehensible, preliminary findings from the ongoing investigation of the incident suggest that the March 15 accident would have occurred regardless of whether or not a March 4 inspection was conducted.
Bruce Silberblatt, an 80-year-old former contractor, filed a complaint with the Buildings Department on March 4 over a lack of braces on crane, the Daily News reported.
“I think the Buildings Department is grossly negligent because they had been warned. They sent an inspector and they brushed it under the rug, so to speak,” Silberblatt said.
Marquette, when confronted by the Daily News, denied that he had inspected the crane that day. He said he had been to the site just once, prior to March 4.
Silberblatt said the crane was braced only to the second and eighth floors of the 13-story structure.
“As it went higher and higher, I got more and more concerned because I didn’t see any more braces installed,” Silberblatt told the Daily News.
The Buildings Department has suspended Marquette. Rose Gill Hearn, the commissioner of the Department of Investigation, announced the arrest at Second Avenue and East 51st Street, near the site of the accident. The Department of Investigation handles cases of misconduct among city workers. TRD