Sky Materials Corp Foreman Wilmer Cueva Must Receive Maximum Sentencing Following Conviction in Relation to Worker Carlos Moncayo’s Death
Foreman Wilmer Cueva has been convicted by a New York State Supreme Court jury of Criminally Negligent Homicide and Reckless Endangerment, and is expected to be sentenced on December 15, 2016 in the case of the worksite death of Carlos Moncayo. While the cases against two of the other defendants indicted in connection with the incident, Sky Materials Corp. and Alfonso Prestia, are pending, NYCOSH believes all corporations and individuals involved, must be tried on equal footing and be punished with a maximum sentence for contributing to this worksite death.
In June, there was a precedent-setting conviction for the unsafe site’s general contractor Harco Construction– but no just sentence or punishment. The presiding judge referred to the weak state laws that allow a corporation to get away with a nominal fine despite a manslaughter conviction – sending the message that companies can continue to act with impunity. In the current case, NYCOSH is calling for the maximum sentence permissible.
Associate Director, Nadia Marin Molina, said, “The conviction of Cueva for criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment serves as a warning to other foremen and supervisors that they cannot endanger workers by cutting corners for subcontractors or general contractors. Individuals are responsible for upholding regulations that protect the safety of workers; they must be accountable or suffer the consequences.”
When Carlos Moncayo’s life was cut short and an unshored trench collapsed on him on a Manhattan construction site, the incident was not only foreseeable and preventable, but a criminal act.
There were repeated warnings that went ignored by the general contractor, subcontractor and individuals in charge, for months before Mr. Moncayo was crushed to death. As a foreman for Sky Materials, the excavation company on the site, Wilmer Cueva received warnings both days and hours before the incident. The regulation limit requires excavations of more than 5 feet to be reinforced; Cueva was warned of the imminent danger by an inspector when the trench reached 7 feet; the depth of the excavation had reached 14 feet when it collapsed, killing Moncayo.
Despite the defense argument that Cueva was “simply a laborer like Moncayo with a title,” (Newsday, 10/26/2016) the distinction between Cueva and Moncayo is clear: Moncayo was a worker, and Cueva was a supervisor who chose to keep him working in that unshored trench, despite extensive experience in excavations. Moncayo’s death was part of a sad and unjust pattern along lines of race, national origin, and union status: immigrant and/or latino workers and non-union workers are at the greatest risk of death. In 2012, 79% of fatal fall construction accidents occurred at nonunion construction sites and 60% of fatal fall victims were immigrant and/or Latino.
This is also a reminder to workers that no matter the race of the person bossing them around on the job site and no matter what language that person speaks – they have rights and must speak out and report unsafe conditions if they feel their lives are endangered by unscrupulous employers and site supervisors of any race or ethnicity.
We applaud the work of District Attorney Vance’s office, Assistant District Attorney Diana Florence and her prosecution team in seeking justice for the Moncayo family.