DA Rests in Deutsche Bank Blaze Manslaughter Trial

NY Post - June 02, 2011

by LAURA ITALIANO

Prosecutors rested their case just after 12 noon in the Deutsche Bank manslaughter trial today.

Summations in the trial -- in which three construction officials are blamed for a blaze that killed two firefighters in the 9/11-damaged high rise in August, 2007 -- may begin in two weeks. The trial started back in early April.

"We are nearing the end of the case," Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Rena Uviller told the jury after the prosecution rested

Defense lawyers for Jeffrey Melofchik, who was site safety manager for general contractor Bovis Lend Lease, will call one, possibly two witnesses who will take the trial through to Monday or Tuesday. That will be the final testimony expected in the case, unless prosecutors present a rebuttal case.

Melofchik is accused of signing off on fire safety checklists at the site despite knowing that a 42-foot-long section of standpipe had been removed from the basement, essentially disabling the best means firefighters had to pump lifesaving water to the top floors.

His co-defendants are Mitchel Alvo, director of abatement for John Galt Corp., and Galt foreman Salvatore DePaola, who are accused of ordering the pipe be cut and removed as a cost-cutting measure after part of it collapsed during the building's decontamination and demolition.

Defense lawyers insist the men didn't know it was a standpipe -- and blame other factors, including a lack of sprinklers and blocked stairwells -- for the deaths of firefighters Robert Beddia and Joseph Graffagnino.

The heros died of smoke inhalation after getting trapped without water in a stairwell of the burning building.