A New York City construction foreman has been found guilty of criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment in the death of a worker last year.
News sources report that Wilmer Cueva was convicted by a New York State Supreme Court jury after prosecutors successfully argued that he ignored warnings about safety problems at an excavation site, leading to a trench collapse that claimed the life of 22-year-old Carlos Moncayo in April 2015.
“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, who was employed by subcontractor Sky Materials, is scheduled for sentencing on December 15.
This is the second criminal prosecution in the case. Project contractor Harco Construction was convicted in June of manslaughter – a first for a New York construction company. Cases are still pending against Sky and Harco Supervisor Alfonso Prestia.
At least 140 construction workers have been killed in New York City since 2008. The city’s high rate of construction fatalities has been partly blamed on developers who ignore safety in an effort to build quickly in highly desirable areas and officials who are willing to look the other way when it comes to compliance with safety regulations.