Regional Scaffolding and Hoisting Company, a contractor that was the focus of a criminal investigation into a 2007 fire at the Deutsche Bank building that resulted in the death of two firefighters (AND that remains under scrutiny for financial irregularities), is set to return to Ground Zero to work on the office tower at 4 World Trade Center.
According to The New York Times, documents filed with the city show that Regional Scaffolding was issued a permit two weeks ago to install a construction elevator at 4 WTC. And, yes, that means exactly what you think: A company being eyed for criminal negligence and fiscal shadiness has been rewarded with a prime gig at the office tower developer Larry A. Silverstein is constructing at the World Trade Center site.
In 2007, the principals at Regional Scaffolding and Hoisting helped form the John Galt Corporation, a shell company prosecutors allege was created to cover up the involvement of another troubled company in the demolition of the Deutsche Bank building, which is located across the street from 4 WTC and still has yet to be leveled.
In 2008, the Galt company and three construction supervisors, Mitchel Alvo, Jeffrey Melofchik and Salvatore DePaola, were indicted on manslaughter charges in the deaths of firefighters Robert Beddia and Joseph Graffagnino, who lost their lives when responding to the August 2007 blaze. Regional, however, was not charged in the deaths. But sources close to the inquiry say the Manhattan District Attorney’s office is still investigating the company over allegations of financial misdeeds.
Nevertheless, Tishman Construction, which is managing construction on Silversteinâ€™s $2 billion tower, went ahead and hired Regional to install the elevator because, according to Silverstein spokesman Bud Perrone, “it was judged to be the most qualified responsible bidder.” Perrone went on to say that Silverstein is confident that Regional “will perform their duties responsibly and to the highest safety standards.”
Meanwhile, Peter Driscoll, a lawyer for Regional, said Wednesday that Regional got the short end of the stick in the Deutsche Bank investigation. According to Driscoll, Regional only created the John Galt Corp. at the behest of the soon-to-be-disbanded Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC), which was overseeing the demolition of the building.
But regardless of Regional’s culpability in the Deutsche Building fiasco, there are still serious questions about the company’s ability to perform safe work. The Mayor’s Office of Contract Services, which monitors the track records of vendors and contractors who do business with the city, has all but black-listed Regional, placing it on a list of companies that it cautions city agencies against doing business with. Additionally, the School Construction Authority inspector general, whose office determines which companies can bid and work on building or repairing schools, has disqualified Regional for performing any kind of school work.
What do you think, Battery Park City residents? Are you OK having Regional back in BPC and working at Ground Zero? Or do you fear the worst?