Construction Firm and Foreman Charged with Reckless Endangerment in 2019 Scaffolding Tragedy
Prosecutors allege that the scaffolding at 243 Fourth Avenue had been left unfastened for days, leading it to blow off and severely injure 32-year-old Haley Keating.
The Brooklyn District Attorney filed criminal charges Friday against a scaffolding firm and a foreman involved in a 2019 incident in which unsecured scaffolding fell into an adjacent restaurant patio, seriously injuring a patron eating brunch below.
The company, Silvercup Scaffolding of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and one of its foremen, Zeke Fagan, 26, were both indicted on misdemeanor charges of reckless endangerment and criminal mischief. Fagan faces a maximum sentence of 364 days.
Both were arraigned in Brooklyn Supreme Court Friday morning and ordered to return to court in August. Under New York law, corporations can be charged with crimes, and in this case the potential punishment would be financial penalties.
Prosecutors alleged that scaffolding at a luxury condo under construction at 243 Fourth Avenue had been left unfastened for several days, leading it to blow off the roof on the morning of June 30, 2019.
As THE CITY reported in March, after the catastrophe the developers of the building, 243 Development LLC, hired the politically wired attorney Frank Carone to lobby the city Buildings Department and resolve code violations. Carone is now Mayor Eric Adams’ chief of staff.
Records show that one of the LLC’s members, Dean Brodsky, was the construction safety manager at the site and that the LLC itself was cited for failing to notify DOB about the accident. The violation was ultimately marked as “resolved” without the LLC having to pay a penalty.
The scaffolding plummeted 12 stories and fell on to 32-year-old Haley Keating, an up-and-coming CPA who was celebrating a promotion at the restaurant next to the condo site. She suffered severe brain injuries and is still subject to periodic seizures.
The city Department of Investigation (DOI) launched an investigation and the Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez brought the case to a grand jury.
“”This is a tragedy that never should have happened,” Gonzalez said, adding that the collapse “has had a devastating impact on a young woman who will suffer the consequences for the rest of her life.”
DOI Commissioner Jocelyn Strauber called the debacle “entirely preventable” and charged that the foreman and the company “knowingly failed to secure or remove roof scaffolding that posed a serious danger.”
Prosecutors say about two weeks before the collapse, a stucco company had removed ties holding the scaffolding in place while they completed repairs. The company told the DA they “immediately” informed the general contractor’s construction superintendent that the scaffolding needed to be removed.
Fagan was informed of this June 14, but the scaffolding was never properly dismantled, the indictment alleges. On June 30, high winds caught netting on the scaffolding and lifted the entire device off the roof, sending it plunging into the backyard seating of the restaurant next door.
Multiple Players Were Aware
The Keating family is suing 243 Development, Brodsky, Silvercup, the stucco company and the general contractor. Their attorney, Dylan Braverman, has uncovered a string of communications leading up to the collapse indicating multiple players were aware for several days that the scaffolding needed to come down.
On June 14, the general contractor sent photos to a Silvercup employee via Whatsapp showing the scaffolding with no tiebacks. The general contractor wrote, “Scaffolding coming apart on the bulkhead. Send guys to start dropping it.”
But that same day Brodsky, the site safety manager and a member of the LLC, ordered the workers sent to take down the scaffolding to relocate to another “more important” job. As a result, another day passed with the unsecured scaffolding remaining on the roof.
In an affidavit filed in response to the lawsuit, Brodsky said his “duties as site safety coordinator did not include an inspection of the scaffolding” and that prior to the collapse, he “was not aware of unsecured scaffolding on the roof or tie backs that were removed from the bulkhead as alleged.”
Aaron Twersky, the attorney for Silvercup and Fagan, sent a statement to THE CITY late Friday, criticizing the indictment as prosecutorial “overreach.”
“Sometimes an accident is just that: an accident,” Twersky wrote. “The facts — and not the allegations — will reveal what really happened and the truth. The indictment today is a clear overreach by the District Attorney to garner headlines and press, with little value for truth and reality.”
Attorneys for Brodsky and 243 Development did not respond to THE CITY’s request for comment.
On Friday, Carone said he had a “very limited” role in representing 243 Development LLC with regards to the DOB violations and was not involved in the criminal investigation at all.