General contractor and property developer sued in connection with death of worker at construction site in Poughkeepsie

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Poughkeepsie, NY (WorkersCompensation.com) – Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Jonathan Mellone, the Special Agent in Charge of the New York Region of the Office of Inspector General, Department of Labor (“DOL-OIG”) today announced that ONEKEY, LLC, a New Jersey construction company, and its principal, FINBAR O’NEILL, have been accused by Information of willfully violating labor regulations. ‘Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”), which resulted in the death of a construction worker (“Victim-1”) in Poughkeepsie, New York, on or about August 3, 2017. Information accuses ONEKEY and O’NEILL of building and placing construction loads on a concrete wall without consulting a qualified person to determine if the wall can support the weight. The Information also accuses ONEKEY and O’NEILL of failing to warn workers of the dangers of the wall. The wall collapsed, killing Victim-1. ONEKEY and O’NEILL were arraigned this afternoon before US Magistrate Judge Judith C. McCarthy.

US attorney Damian Williams said: “As alleged, OneKey, a construction company, and its director, Finbar O’Neill, endangered the safety of their workers by failing to comply with regulations and taking shortcuts to circumvent their security obligations. This conduct resulted in the death of a worker on a construction site. Today’s charges should remind small businesses that failing to follow safety rules can lead to unnecessary and preventable tragedies.

DOL-OIG Special Agent in Charge Jonathan Mellone said, “An important part of the Office of Inspector General’s mission is to investigate allegations of criminal misconduct related to U.S. Department of Labor programs. (DOL). We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners and the DOL Occupational Safety and Health Administration to hold accountable those who endanger worker safety.

As claimed in the information[1]:

In 2017, ONEKEY and O’NEILL implemented a soil compaction plan at a construction site at 1 Dutchess Avenue in Poughkeepsie. The soil compaction plan involved piling large amounts of soil, known as “overburden”, on top of the sites of three future buildings. An engineering company has devised a plan for the use of surcharges. ONEKEY and O’NEILL did not follow this plan. Instead, they built a wall to hold back one of the surcharges, so the workers could start the buildings next to it. ONEKEY and O’NEILL did not consult any qualified person to see if the wall could support the weight which would be imposed on it by the surcharge.

As people worked next to the wall, ONEKEY continued to use construction machinery to add dirt to the overload pressed against the wall. People working near the wall were not warned of the dangers it created. ONEKEY and O’NEILL heard from people working on the site that the wall was unsafe. They didn’t fix the wall.

On August 3, 2017, workers complained that construction machinery was running on top of the surcharge, adding dirt to it. Later that day, the wall collapsed. While falling, Victim-1 ran away from the wall, but he couldn’t get away in time and was killed.

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ONEKEY, LLC, a New Jersey company, is charged with one count of willfully violating OSHA regulations causing death. The above count carries a maximum fine of $500,000.

FINBAR O’NEILL, 57, of Paramus, New Jersey, is charged with one count of willfully violating OSHA regulations resulting in death. The above count carries a maximum penalty of six months in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.

The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the accused will be determined by a judge.

Mr. Williams praised the outstanding work of OSHA and DOL-OIG.

The case is being prosecuted by the Bureau’s White Plains division. Assistant US Attorney Steven J. Kochevar is in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Information are only charges, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.


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