Crane Rigger Acquitted of All Charges

William Rapetti, a rigging contractor who was the only person criminally charged in the March 2008 collapse of a tower crane that killed seven people, was acquitted Thursday by Supreme Court Justice Roger Hayes.

The sole criminal defendant charged in the March 15, 2008, collapse of a tower crane in midtown Manhattan was acquitted of all charges Thursday in a New York City courtroom. Supreme Court Justice Roger Hayes issued the decision in the manslaughter trial of William Rapetti, a rigging contractor charged after investigators determined he had chosen to use four straps, one of them significantly worn, rather than the eight specified by the crane's manufacturer to rig an 11,000-pound steel collar temporarily on the crane about 18 stories above the ground. The collar fell, breaking the support beams connecting the crane's sections to a building that was under construction. The crane buckled and struck the building, resulting in the deaths of six workers and one person inside the building.

Rapetti's lawyers criticized the investigation and said the connecting beams were not installed to specification and the straps were not the cause of the collapse.

Rapetti is 49; criminal charges were filed against him and his company, Rapetti Rigging Services, in January 2009. OSHA cited the company along with two other contractors in September 2008 for alleged violations after investigating the collapse, with OSHA's Manhattan Area Director Richard Mendelson saying then, "Ultimately, the crane collapse was a failure to follow basic, but essential, construction safety processes."

Closing arguments were made in the case Monday. The collapse, along with other crane failures and incidents around the same time, caused New York City and some other jurisdictions to enact new crane safety rules.

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