9 Ways Contractors Got Arrested in 2015

 Photo by  Victor ,  CC BY 2.0

Photo by Victor, CC BY 2.0

Construction is a dangerous profession.  Every day, we worry about people getting injured on the job and, all too often, people lose their lives.  Apparently, that’s not the only thing contractors should be worried about... there’s also plenty of ways to get arrested.  Below are 9 stories that involved contractors being arrested or convicted of a crime.

1. Killing Baby Birds

According to the LA Times, two construction workers were demolishing a ficus tree, which contained eight or nine nests of snowy egrets and black-crowned night herons holding roughly 12 baby birds that were unable to fly.  Neighbors reportedly begged the workers to stop the work because of the birds, but they did not, and 5 did not survive.  If convicted, the two workers could each face up to a year and a half prison sentence for animal cruelty, destruction of a bird nest, and taking and harassing nongame birds.  They could also be responsible for $20,000 worth of vet bills for the birds that did survive.

Full story: Construction workers plead not guilty in baby birds' deaths | LA Times

2. Bribing School Official for Faster Payment

Cash flow is a major issue for many contractors, but it’s certainly not a big enough issue to warrant 7 years in prison.  That’s exactly what a Marines Harbor, NY contractor is facing after allegedly offering a School Construction Authority $3,500 in bribes over a couple months to expedite payment and decrease scrutiny of his work.  The owner of the business is facing six counts of third-degree bribery. 

Full story: Staten Island contractor offered bribes to school official to get paid faster: D.A. | SI Live

3. Cutting Corners on a Demolition Job

A Philadelphia demolition contractor was convicted of six counts of involuntary manslaughter after six people were killed after a building collapsed during demolition next to a thrift store.  The jury concluded that the contractor had made the nearby building unsafe after removing the support beams and joists before removing the wall adjacent to the thrift store.  In all, 13 people were injured, including the six that were killed and another who was buried under the rubble for 13 hours and later lost her legs.  The contractor was also found guilty of aggravated assault and risking a catastrophy.  A subcontractor also working on the job has accepted a plea deal that could bring a maximum sentence of 10 to 20 years.  Sentencing for both is scheduled for January 2016.

Full story: Demolition contractor convicted of manslaughter in deadly Philly building collapse | Daily Local News

4. Failing to Provide Fall Protection and Training to Workers

After a residential construction worker fell 18 feet while trying to lower a frame opening and later died from his injuries, the site foreman on the job was charged with manslaughter.  Not only did the company reportedly not give fall protection and training to its employees, the site foreman knew the scaffolding the man fell from violated the company’s safety program.  Both the company owner and site foreman have plead not guilty to manslaughter charges and two labor code violations.

Full story: Construction foreman, owner charged with manslaughter in worker's death | Business Insurance

5. Insurance Fraud

After a contractor was hired by homeowners to inspect a roof, it was suspected that he intentionally damaged the roof in order to gain work from the homeowners from a fraudulent insurance claim.  The roof had been separately assessed for damage three days prior and no damage had been found.  Insurance fraud is a felony and punishable by two to ten years in prison and a fine reaching upwards of $10,000.  The man was also reportedly arrested on one count of criminal property damage.

Full story: Georgia Roofing Contractor Accused of Insurance Fraud | Insurance Journal

6. Taking Advantage of the Elderly

An elderly couple in their 80s were looking to remodel the restroom in their 1950s home, when a Norwalk, CT contractor offered to help them finish the project. The contractor was sentenced to 2 years and a day in prison for stealing $36,000 from the couple in order to pay his taxes, car insurance and other bills.  The elderly woman had been suffering from dementia and did not even remember paying the man.

Full story: Norwalk contractor jailed for ripping off elderly Stamford clients | Stamford Advocate

7. Not Paying Sub-Contractors

After a Colorado contractor allegedly withholding roughly $470,000 from around 50 subcontractors and clients, the owner has been indicted on 70 counts of theft and forgery.  The man is scheduled to appear in court in early January.

Full story: Construction Company Owner Accused Of Stealing Nearly $500,000 From Clients, Subcontractors | CBS Denver

8. Lying to OSHA

Putting employees in harm’s way is bad enough, but covering up your failures can lead to even more problems.  That’s exactly what an Alabama contractor found out when 3 workers were injured after falling off a 30 feet high roof and suffering broken bones.  The company was not only heavily fined by OSHA (6 total counts reaching $55,000), but the site supervisor was also sentenced to three years of probation and 30 hours of community service for making false statements to OSHA inspectors during their investigation.

Full story: Don’t Lie to OSHA: Alabama Contractor Sentenced to 3 Years Probation for “False Statements” | Construction Junkie

9. Allowing State Permit for Explosives to Expire

After surviving a demolition accident in which a 2.6 million pound smoke stack fell on his excavator, and Alabama contractor was later arrested for allowing his state permit for possession of explosives to expire.  Even though he had a valid federal permit, an expired state permit is a felony and punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Full story: Excavator Operator Who Survived Smoke Stack Collapse is Having a Terrible December | Construction Junkie