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3 top NYCHA executives face criminal charges in fatal NYC elevator accident

On the Christmas Eve of 2015 around 4:00 pm, 84 year old Olegario Pabon stepped in his elevator at a Bronx NYCHA development in New York City. As he was getting inside, the elevator zoomed upward trapping the man’s leg and hand and then dropping him on his head. He died from his injuries.

The deadly elevator accident was preventable. An hour and half earlier a concerned tenant of the building had called in a complaint saying “the lift is going up and down by itself with its door open and when the door closed it slams really hard”. Nobody did anything about it it and no inspector was sent to check it out.  This act of gross negligence killed Olegario Pabon.

The DOI investigation following the death of Olegario Pabon found out that the brake monitor had been disabled. According to the DOI report, it seemed like a NYCHA elevator mechanic had clipped the wires on the device and closed off the electrical connection by covering it with black electrical tape.

Additionally the DOI investigators found that from 2014 through June 2018, 3 top NYCHA elevator division managers (Derrick Graham, 49, Virgel Fincher, 51, and Alan Guadagno, 61) falsified 33 inspections reports that claimed that lifts had been inspected when they weren’t. Even after the deadly accident the trio continued to falsify reports as the investigation was going on.

Yesterday they appeared in front of the court. They are now facing dozens of felony counts for lying  and one-and-a-third to four years behind bars if convicted.

These charges were brought by Manhattan DA Cy Vance Jr after the Department of Investigation released his report following the death of Olegario Pabon. The report lists a pattern of problem in the unit and suspect that the brake monitor was tampered. It also details a series of communication breakdowns inside NYCHA.

Read more in the NY Daily News