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LI Crane Operator Charged with Bribing an Inspector

Oct 8, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP One of the bosses at Long Island‘s Nu-Way Crane Service of Copiague has been charged with paying a New York City inspector more than $10,000 to falsify inspection reports and licenses, according to the Manhattan district attorney's office.

Michael Sackaris, 48, of St. James, is the chief of Nu-Way Crane Service, according to authorities.  Sackaris and another employee were arrested yesterday after they were indicted on bribery charges; Nu-Way also was indicted and Sackaris was charged with threatening a witness.  The City Department of Investigation initiated a probe of the buildings department's cranes and derricks division following the deaths of nine people in two crane collapses this year.

Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau's office said that James DeLayo, 60, of the Bronx, sold Sackaris copies of the crane exam at least twice Morgenthau’s office also said that Sackaris paid DeLayo $200 to $500 approximately 26 times from 2002 to 2007 to either falsify inspection reports or certify that Nu-Way crane operators passed exams.  Prosecutors also said that Nu-Way crane operator Michael Pascalli, 24, of Bethpage, received credit for passing exams he never took.

DeLayo, who is also a former acting chief inspector, was arrested in June after he admitted to taking bribes, officials reported.  Meanwhile, according to his attorney, DeLayo says that he believes he has not done anything wrong.  His attorney cited Delayo’s 30 years of service to the City of New York.

All three—DeLayo, Sackaris and Pascalli—pleaded not guilty yesterday in State Supreme Court in Manhattan; Sackaris was held on $10,000 bail and DeLayo and Pascalli were released without bail.  DeLayo, Sackaris, Pascalli, and Nu-Way were charged with numerous counts of records tampering, filing false instruments, and falsifying business records.  DeLayo was also charged with receiving a bribe; Nu-Way, Sackaris and Pascalli were charged with bribery; Sackaris was charged with intimidating a witness, a felony, and for confronting a witness to the bribery scheme at a Suffolk nightclub in August, prosecutors said.

A Nu-Way crane at a site in Manhattan is scheduled for inspection, and another in Brooklyn is undergoing load tests, a Buildings Department spokesman said.  "Every Nu-Way crane received a comprehensive inspection following the allegations, and we are closely monitoring their active jobs," buildings commissioner-designate Robert LiMandri said.

Meanwhile, New York City has implemented new construction crane regulations aimed at preventing the types of crane collapse accidents responsible for this year’ nine deaths.  The city’s construction contractors say this will result in temporary layoffs of construction workers.  The most recent collapse occurred in May, when a 200 foot crane fell about 30, killing two and seriously injuring a worker.  Seven other people were killed in a crane collapse in March, just a couple of miles south of May’s tragedy.  Following that incident, a city inspector—who allegedly lied about inspecting the doomed crane in the weeks before the collapse—was arrested for falsifying records. The March crane collapse also led to the resignation of New York City Buildings Commissioner Patricia Lancaster.

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