Inspector Arrested in NYC Crane Collapse

NEW YORK (AP) -- A city inspector has been charged with lying about checking on a construction crane that later collapsed, killing seven people in a dense Manhattan neighborhood, officials said Thursday.

Edward Marquette was arrested Wednesday on charges of falsifying business records, buildings Commissioner Patricia Lancaster said.

"We will not tolerate this kind of behavior at the Department of Buildings," she said.

A complaint about the crane was logged March 4 to a city hot line, officials said, and Marquette said he inspected it. It was later determined he had not.

However, Lancaster said it is very unlikely an inspection would have prevented the accident because the parts of the crane that failed were not on site on March 4.

Marquette, 46, was arraigned in state Supreme Court and released without bail. His lawyer, Kate Moguletscu, had no comment as she left court.

Lancaster said that in addition to suspending Marquette, she has ordered a full audit of his inspection reports over the past six months, and also of the cranes and derricks unit of the department.

The collapse pulverized a brownstone and damaged several other buildings.

The gigantic piece of machinery toppled over when a six-ton steel collar used to secure the crane to the building came loose, plunging into another collar that acted as a major anchor. Without that support, it came tumbling down with terrifying force.

The collapse followed weeks of complaints by people in the neighborhood that the crane didn't appear safe.

Bruce Silberblatt, the retired contractor who called in the complaint, said he was stunned by the arrest.

"My first reaction was astonishment. My second reaction is anger that a person would have the gall to do this," Silberblatt said.

Earlier, city officials said they had started inspecting every construction crane in use around New York City, though authorities have said there's no indication that Saturday's accident points to a larger problem with cranes.

The inspections began Wednesday, Buildings Department spokeswoman Kate Lindquist said.

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