For Immediate Release on February 5, 2007 Contact: William J. Smith (718) 556-7150
D.A. Donovan: Guilty Plea Entered in Construction Site Death of Mexican Immigrant Laborer
*** Kenneth Formica, 46, Pleads Guilty to Charge of , in Trench Collapse Death of Immigrant Lorenzo Pavia, 39***
STATEN ISLAND, NY – Richmond County District Attorney Daniel M. Donovan, Jr. today announced that a guilty plea has been entered by the owner and site supervisor of a Staten Island construction firm in relation to an incident which claimed the life of a Mexican immigrant laborer. Kenneth Formica, of Formica Construction, Inc., entered a guilty plea to the charge of Criminally Negligent Homicide, a Class E felony, in State Supreme Court before Justice Leonard Rienzi. As part of the negotiated plea, Mr. Formica will be formally sentenced on March 12, 2007 to a period of 4 months of weekends in prison (16 weekends) and pay a fine of $5,000.
“This prosecution sends a clear message to those doing business in this community: The lives of laborers are not a commodity to be used and disposed of with impunity. Government safety standards are there for a reason; and failure to abide by those standards can result in criminal prosecution, a felony conviction and jail time,” stated District Attorney Donovan.
Kenneth Formica was named in a 7 count indictment voted by a Richmond County Grand Jury in November 2005. The charges against Formica, an officer and site supervisor for Formica Construction, Inc., relate to a December 15, 2003, incident in which a trench collapsed at a residential building site in the vicinity of Taylor St. and DeGroot Place. Lorenzo Pavia died at the site while working at the bottom un-shored trench, ranging in depth from 11 to 15 ft., which collapsed. Another worker, John Paci, was injured in the collapse. Under standards set by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), all trenches deeper than 5 ft. deep must be shored or sloped. Formica, who operated the excavator which dug the trench and directed workers to operate there, is alleged to have failed to abide by these regulations and also endangered the lives of other workers and firefighters who jumped into the trench to try to rescue the workers.
Also included in the indictment was a charge of Reckless Endangerment in the 1st Degree, for a March 4, 2003 incident during construction in front of 1400 Clove Road. Formica is alleged to have acted with depraved indifference to human life by digging an unsafe trench at the location and directing a construction worker to work inside the trench. At the time of the occurrence, inspectors from the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) uncovered the dangerous condition and ordered a Formica worker from the un-shored trench.
Assistant District Attorney Paul A. Capofari, Chief of the Supreme Court Bureau is prosecuting the case. The investigation was assisted by Michael Quinn, Compliance Safety and Health Officer for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration- Avenel Area Office, part of the U.S. Department of Labor, Detective Nigel Bristow of the NYPD 120 Detective Squad, investigators from the New York City Department of Transportation and members of the Fire Department of the City of New York. Joseph Sorrentino, Esq. is representing Mr. Formica.