Arrest made in deadly N.Y. crane collapse

/ Source: The Associated Press

An inspector in the city's Buildings Department was arrested in the crane collapse on Manhattan's East Side last weekend that killed seven people, officials announced Thursday.

Edward Marquette was arrested Wednesday on charges of falsifying business records, buildings Commissioner Patricia Lancaster said.

"We will not tolerate this kind of behavior at the Department of Buildings," she said.

Officials said a complaint about the crane was logged on March 4 to the city's 311 hot line, and Marquette said he inspected it. It was later determined he had not.

However, Lancaster said it is very unlikely an inspection would have prevented the accident because the parts of the crane that failed were not on the site on March 4.

Marquette, 46, was arraigned on criminal charges in state Supreme Court and released without bail.

Full audit ordered
Lancaster said that in addition to suspending Marquette, she has ordered a full audit of Marquette's inspection reports over the past six months, and also of the cranes and derricks unit of the department.

The collapse caused a swath of destruction along a full block of the city, including a brownstone that was pulverized.

The gigantic piece of machinery toppled over when a 6-ton steel collar used to secure the crane to the building came loose, plunging into another collar that acted as a major anchor. Without that support, it came tumbling down with terrifying force.

The collapse of the crane followed weeks of complaints by people in the neighborhood that it didn't appear safe.

Bruce Silberblatt, the retired contractor who called in the complaint, said he was stunned by the arrest.

"My first reaction was astonishment. My second reaction is anger that a person would have the gall to do this," said Silberblatt, who is also vice president of the Turtle Bay Neighborhood Association.