A licensed engineer was charged Thursday with filing fraudulent plans with the city’s Department of Buildings in connection with a Brooklyn construction site where the collapse of earth and debris killed a day laborer in March.
The engineer, Abraham Hertzberg, 86, of Kings Point, N.Y., faces nine first-degree counts of offering a false instrument for filing, a felony. If convicted, he could face up to three years in prison on each count.
According to the indictment, Mr. Hertzberg had previously lost his authority to self-certify architectural designs and used a stamp belonging to his partner, Louis Sanchez, to certify them in Mr. Sanchez’s name. He also placed Mr. Sanchez’s signature on several documents filed in support of Mr. Lattarulo’s applications for building permits, according to the district attorney.
Engineer Is Charged in Fatal Wall Collapse
At the time, Mr. Sanchez was recovering from a severe brain injury and “lacked the physical ability to review or certify architectural designs,” Mr. Hynes’s office said Thursday in a statement.
After getting the necessary permits, Mr. Lattarulo began construction of the building. On the morning of March 12, a worker, Lauro Ortega, 30, was digging the foundation in a trench beside a house that Mr. Lattarulo also owned. The laundry’s foundation was to be much deeper than that of the house, requiring that the house’s foundation be underpinned to prevent a collapse.
According to the authorities, Mr. Lattarulo was warned by a consultant that the new foundation was unstable. Instead, the authorities said, Mr. Lattarulo told Mr. Ortega to keep digging.
Moments later, part of a wall from the house collapsed and spilled rubble onto Mr. Ortega, killing him. A second worker was injured.