Engineer pleads not guilty to perjury in NYC

A structural engineer was charged March 3 with lying to New York City investigators looking into the circumstances of a building collapse that killed two firefighters in 2006. The engineer, Jose D. Vargas, 82, pleaded not guilty to three counts of perjury in the State Supreme Court in the Bronx.

03/13/2008


A structural engineer was charged March 3 with lying to New York City investigators looking into the circumstances of a building collapse that killed two firefighters in 2006.

The engineer, Jose D. Vargas, 82, pleaded not guilty to three counts of perjury in the State Supreme Court in the Bronx. He was accused of lying to the City Dept. of Investigation, which was looking into a fire that killed Lt. Howard J. Carpluk Jr., and Firefighter Michael C. Reilly on Aug. 27, 2006. The firefighters became trapped when the floor of a discount store collapsed on them.

New York City allows professional engineers and architects to approve certain building alterations through an honor system. According to the case, Vargas had certified plans to renovate the building at 1575 Walton Ave. 5 years before the fire.

A fire department report concluded that the renovations went beyond the scope of the plans, and that the work was badly done. The report also said that Vargas did not conduct a final inspection of the work, as required by city regulations. The fire department also concluded that rotten support beams under the first floor caused the collapse.

Vargas’ lawyer, Armando Montano, disputed the fire department’s conclusions, and said that Vargas reviewed the work on the roof and there was no reason for him to check the basement’s supports.

Prosecutors said Vargas misled investigators who studied the collapse, telling investigators that he had inspected the building and that he had seen the steel called for in the roof renovations when no steel was installed.

Read more details and statements about this case in the New York Times here .

CSE covered third-party liability in its September 2007 and October 2007 issues. Click here to read ,





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