“A construction worker died Thursday after a century-old, two-story warehouse under demolition as part of Columbia University’s expansion collapsed in a hail of concrete, bricks and steel that engulfed three workers.
The workers were employed by Breeze National Inc. ofBrooklyn, a company whose founder, Toby Romano Sr., was convicted of federal bribery charges in 1988 and has been identified by law enforcement officials as having ties to organized crime. Mr. Romano left the company in 2009; it is now run by Toby Romano Jr., his son.
The subcontractor’s work was being overseen by Lend Lease, the successor company to Bovis, the construction management giant that oversaw the demolition of theDeutsche Bank building in Lower Manhattan and, in a 2008 agreement with prosecutors, acknowledged failures that contributed to the deaths of two firefighters in a blaze at the bank building a year earlier.
In 2010, after a worker died in a fall at a job site on West 129th Street that was also connected to Columbia’s expansion, Breeze National was cited for two violations related to its lack of fall protection, said Ted Fitzgerald, a spokesman for the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The violations carried fines of $14,000. “The company accepted the citation, corrected the hazard and paid a fine” of $1,687, Mr. Fitzgerald said.
And in 2007, the city denied the company’s application for a license to cart trash or construction debris, said Kamran Mumtaz, a City Hall spokesman. It was put on a “caution list” of contractors and has no current contracts with the city, he said.”
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