Construction foreman acquitted in Deutsche Bank fire trial
A construction company supervisor was acquitted Tuesday in the deaths of two firefighters killed while fending off a blaze in the doomed Deutsche Bank building near Ground Zero.
Salvatore DePaola, 56, of Staten Island had been charged with manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide for overseeing a crew that had cut a basement standpipe – depriving firefighters of emergency water when the lethal inferno broke out on Aug. 18, 2007.
The jury was still deliberating the same charges against site safety manager Jeffrey Melofchik, 49, of Westfield, N.J.
The building, damaged beyond repair on 9/11, has since been demolished.
“It’s a happy day and a sad day,” said a teary DePaola, a father of a fireman who had faced up to 15 years in prison. “We’ve still got two firefighters dead, and the DA put the wrong people on the stand.”
The case has been controversial from the start. Critics complained that low-level workers were charged while bigger players responsible for the hazardous situation, including the FDNY, were let off the hook
During the 10-week trial, the defendants said they didn't know the tube they cut was a standpipe.
Another verdict, this one to be handed down by the judge, also has not been reached on similar charges against a third man, Mitchel Alvo, who oversaw asbestos abatement in the entire building and his employer, the John Galt Corp. of the Bronx.