Harco Construction found guilty of manslaughter in worker’s death

Contractor convicted on all but one count in relation to April 2015 incident in Meatpacking District

9-19 Ninth Avenue
9-19 Ninth Avenue in the Meatpacking District in April 2015 (inset: Carlos Moncayo) (credit: New York District Attorney’s Office)

Harco Construction was found guilty Friday of manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment in connection with the death last year of a worker at the Restoration Hardware site in the Meatpacking District.

A New York State Supreme Court judge ruled that Harco is guilty on all but one of the counts it faced – one of four counts of reckless endangerment — for the death of 22-year-old Carlos Moncayo, who was crushed by thousands of pounds of dirt while working in an unsecured excavation pit at 9-19 Ninth Avenue.

Moncayo, an Ecuadorean immigrant who lived in Queens, worked for excavation subcontractor Sky Materials. The subcontractor, as well as Harco supervisor Alfonso Prestia and Sky foreman Wilmer Cueva, will face its own trial in relation to the worker’s death, according to Newsday.

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Workers’ rights advocates claim the Harco verdict is the first time a general contractor has been held criminally accountable for the death of a city construction worker, according to DNAifno.

Harco is led by Kenneth Hart, who had his construction license revoked in August by the city’s Department of Buildings after amassing 30 safety violations over the previous two years. Hart later had his license restored after it was suspended for just one month, plus five months of probation.

All eight of Hart’s open job sites at the time were owned by the Cayre family and its affiliated development entities — including Aurora Capital Associates, which is co-developing the site, to be tenanted by Restoration Hardware, alongside William Gottlieb Real Estate.

In wake of the charges against Harco and Sky, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. announced the formation of a task force to look into safety conditions at construction sites around the city. [Newsday and DNAinfo] – Rey Mashayekhi

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