Supervisors being charged for the deadly fire at the former Deutsche Bank building in 2007 are claiming they are being “scapegoated.”
Mitchel Alvo, Jeffrey Melofchik and Salvatore DePaola have pled not guilty to manslaughter in the fire that killed two firefighters responding to the blaze.
The three men all had roles related to the safety of the site including asbestos-removal foreman to site safety manager.
According to a report from the Associated Press, prosecutors allege that “Alvo, Melofchik and DePaola knew that a vital firefighting water pipe was broken, did nothing about it and covered it up. The disabled pipe called a standpipe, cost firefighters critical time in getting water on the flames, playing a crucial role in creating the smoky inferno that ultimately killed firefighters Robert Beddia and Joseph Graffignino.”
However, the defense team claim the men did not realize the pipe was in fact a standpipe as it had never been identified by inspectors as such before the blaze. The inoperable pipe has been blamed as instrumental in the deaths of the firefighters. Their attorneys have claimed their clients are nothing short of taking the fall for other infallible organizations on the chain, including government agencies who are immune from criminal prosecutions.
“Why are they scapegoating a few defenseless people at the bottom of the line?” Edward J.M. Little, Melofchik’s attorney questioned during the hearing.
The lawyers of the defendants are calling for a dismissal of the case for a lack of evidence, while also claiming that had the standpipe been in proper working order, “The firefighters would have died anyway.”
The trial is set for January 18 and the dismissal motion will be heard on October 21.