The mechanic blamed for a fatal, 2008 tower crane collapse on East 91st St. will not go to jail providing he cooperates against his millionaire magnate boss, James Frank Lomma, (top picture) at a manslaughter trial now set for December, it was revealed today.
The development in Lomma’s upcoming trial was good news and bad news for the families of the two men killed when the tower crane literally broke in two due to a faulty weld, sending the boom and cab plummeting 20 stories.
It’s hard to accept that the mechanic, Tibor Varganyi, 64, will not see jail, said civil lawyer Susan Karten, who represents the Kosovo-based family of victim construction worker Ramadan Kurtij, 27.
“They don’t understand why someone is not going to jail, and why there’s another delay, said Karten, referring to the trial’s original Nov. 14 start date, blamed during a brief hearing today on a scheduling difficulty.
Neither family understands why Lomma’s cranes continue to operate around the city, including in Midtown Manhattan and at the World Trade Center site, said Karten and Bernadette Panzella, lawyer for slain crane operator Donald Leo, 30.
But in saving his own hide, the mechanic may ensure a prison term for his far more culpable boss, Karten noted.
“This is so big, that this is going to be his downfall,” Panzella said of Varganyi flipping against his boss.
In taking a reduced plea, from manslaughter down to criminally negligent homicide, earlier this month, Varganyi fingered Lomma for deciding to save money and time by repairing a critical part on the cheap, by having it re-welded in China, according to a transcript of the proceeding.
“Lomma never asked you what you were providing to [the Chinese welders] for use in the design of th bearing nor did Lomma obtain assistance or oversight of a professional engineer or any other person competent to design as complex a piece of equipment as a bearing,” assistant district attorney Deborah Hickey asked Varganyi during the proceeding — just a fragment of a lengthy Lomma-damning statement to which the mechanic answered, “It’s true.”
Lomma has insisted on his innocence and pointed out that the Department of Buildings had inspected and approved the repair; the manslaughter trial of a master rigger blamed in a second 2008 fatal crane collapse, that one on E. 51st St., ended in acquittal by bench trial in July, 2010