A New York State Supreme Court jury found a construction site foreman guilty Friday in the death of a 22-year-old worker who was crushed when a trench collapsed at the Restoration Hardware site last year.
Wilmer Cueva, 51, was convicted of criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment for allegedly ignoring warnings about safety issues at the Meatpacking District excavation site, officials announced. Prosecutors said this led to the death of Carlos Moncayo, who was killed when a trench at the site collapsed in April 2015. At the time, Cueva worked for Sky Materials, the subcontractor hired to manage construction at 9-19 Ninth Avenue.
Cueva’s conviction follows that of Harco Construction, the project’s contractor. Harco was convicted in June of manslaughter, as well as the same charges against Cueva, representing the first time — in recent memory — that a construction company has been found guilty of manslaughter. Cases are still pending against Sky and Harco Supervisor Alfonso Prestia.
“Wilmer Cueva ignored repeated warnings about the treacherous state of the excavations he was directing — resulting in the preventable and foreseeable death of Carlos Moncayo, a 22-year-old worker,” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said in a statement. “Today’s verdict again places companies and managers on notice: those who knowingly permit unsafe construction practices will face criminal charges is a worker is injured or dies as a result.”
Cueva is expected to be sentenced Dec. 15. — Kathryn Brenzel