Scaffolding company indicted for reckless endangerment in horrific 2019 Gowanus collapse

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The Parlour in July 2019, one month after the scaffolding collapse.
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A well-connected contractor was indicted Friday by Brooklyn prosecutors on charges related to a near-deadly scaffolding collapse in Gowanus in 2019, which injured three people, one of whom was left with permanent brain damage.

Silvercup Scaffolding, a Williamsburg-based contractor, and its foreperson Zeke Fagan are facing reckless endangerment and criminal mischief charges related to the June 2019 collapse at The Parlour, a luxury condominium building at 243 Fourth Ave., then under construction.

“This is a tragedy that never should have happened,” said Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez in a statement. “The defendant allegedly ignored industry safety protocols by failing for days to either secure or remove the scaffolding at this site. His alleged inaction has had a profound and devastating impact on a young woman who will suffer the consequences for the rest of her life. We will now seek to hold him accountable for his reckless, irresponsible, and criminal behavior.”

The scaffolding fell from 12 stories up onto Mission Dolores, a bar next door with an outdoor patio, amid high-speed wind gusts. Three people were injured by falling debris. One of them, 32-year-old accountant Haley Keating, was struck directly on the head and suffered significant trauma, injuries that have left her with permanent brain damage.

Mission Dolores also suffered massive damage from the collapse and eventually sued the developer, 243 Development LLC. The bar has since shuttered.

Investigators say that about two weeks before the collapse, a roofing subcontractor disconnected “tie-backs” securing the scaffolding to the building, and informed the main contractor, Silvercup, that the fasteners were gone and the unsecured scaffolding should be taken down promptly. The foreman was informed of the tie-back removal by June 14 but never proceeded to remove the now-precariously perched scaffolding.

In a lawsuit against the developer, Keating alleged that Vadem Brodsky, a principal at the development company, had cut a number of corners to save money at the expense of site safety. For instance, she says that Brodsky refused to pay the site safety manager he had hired for the job; after the manager terminated the contract, Brodsky assumed the role himself.

Keating also alleged that Brodsky was aware of the removal of the tie-backs, but intervened to prevent the removal of the scaffolding after being informed it was unsecured by the contractors, showing up on-site in the days leading up to the tragedy and instructing workers not to remove the scaffolding. Brodsky even allegedly told the contractor that anyone working to remove scaffolding at the Parlour should instead be sent to another job site on Empire Boulevard, as “that’s more important over there.”

After the collapse, the developer was hit with a number of violations from the city’s Department of Buildings, including for failing to notify the department of the incident, as well as a stop-work order. Brodsky then hired Frank Carone, then a politically-connected lawyer and now chief of staff to Mayor Eric Adams, to dismantle the stop-work order and shred up the fines, The City reported this year.

Carone, on behalf of the developer, hired prominent lobbyist James Capalino, effectively shielding from disclosure the fact that Brodsky was lobbying the city.

By September, the stop-work order was rescinded, and the failure-to-notify violation was dismissed without a fine the following month, The City reported. The Parlour opened later that year, and its condos have sold for as high as $4.75 million.

The defendants were arraigned in Brooklyn Supreme Court on Friday and are due back in court on Aug. 11. They could face up to a year in jail on the misdemeanor charges.

Silvercup Scaffolding declined to comment, as did Steven Zecca, an attorney for the developer. The mayor’s office also declined to comment, directing Brooklyn Paper to a statement from Buildings Commissioner Eric Ulrich.

“Choosing not to perform required safety work on a construction site can have tragic and devastating consequences,” Ulrich said. “If proper precautions were taken, this incident might have been avoided.”