A large electrical contracting firm and its parent corporation based in Rolling Meadows, Ill., have been indicted on federal charges for willfully violating federal workplace safety regulations, allegedly causing the deaths of two workers in separate incidents three months apart in the Chicago area in 1999 and 2000.

The case is believed to be the first criminal prosecution in the country involving the electrocution deaths of high-voltage transmission tower linemen.

The defendants, L.E. Myers Co. and MYR Group, Inc., were charged in a four-count indictment by a federal grand jury. The indictment alleges that Myers and MYR willfully violated numerous federal workplace regulations in the deaths of an apprentice lineman and a journeyman lineman who were working on high-voltage transmission towers - each carrying three phase lines energized at 345,000 volts - in Mount Prospect in 1999 and in Plainfield in 2000.

Myers and MYR each face two counts of violating OSHA safety regulations - one count stemming from each death.

Myers is an electrical contractor employing over 1,000 workers nationwide and is a wholly owned subsidiary of MYR, a holding company that has approximately 4,000 employees and owns several other electrical contracting companies including Harlan Electric Co., Sturgeon Electric Co., Hawkeye Construction, Inc., and Great Southwestern Construction, Inc.