The owner and manager of a suburban Chicago theme park have been charged with misdemeanors following the death of a three-year-old boy on one of the park’s rides.

Jason Dansby was riding the Python Pit roller coaster at the Go Bananas theme park in Norridge when he fell out of the car, was struck, and died from traumatic head injury on April 2 of this year.

Law enforcement officials are now charging owner Jerrold Marks, 58, and his manager James Hayes, 51, with two misdemeanor charges of violating the Carnival Rides and Amusement Safety Act,according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Apparently, the Illinois Department of Labor found that the park had been keeping shoddy safety records about its equipment. But there was no sign that the equipment itself was unsafe: the Department of Labor re-inspected the Python Pit ride, and found nothing wrong with it.

According to NBC Chicago, the two men face up to a year in prison if convicted of the charges, though in reality, misdemeanors very rarely result in jail time.

The bigger court cases relating to Dansby’s death are civil proceedings, filed both by Dansby’s family and by Marion Grant, a woman who came to the boy’s aid after seeing him slip the ride’s safety restraint and fall. Dansby’s parents have filed a wrongful death suit seeking undisclosed damages, and Grant is suing for emotional distress after the incident.

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The U.S. Attorney’s Office charged Tempel Grain Elevators Tuesday morning with aiding and abetting and violating federal work safety regulations resulting in the death of a teenage boy.

The charges come almost two years after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration accused the company of violating safety regulations and ordered it to pay a $1.6 million fine, the second largest total in Colorado for labor and safety fines at the time.

Cody Rigsby, 17, an employee of Tempel Grain Elevators, died May 29, 2009, after he climbed inside a grain bin in Haswell, Colorado, became engulfed in the grain and then asphyxiated.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office is charging the company with violating at least eight safety regulations. Tempel Grain “did not develop or implement an emergency action plan as required” and “did not provide any training to employees who worked at the Haswell Grain Elevator on the safety and health hazards associated with the grain industry,” according to court documents.

 

The company also failed to close and lock out the chute to a bin when employees were inside and failed to provide employees entering a bin with a harness or boatswain’s chair and to station a trained observer near the bin, the charges allege.

Kelly Spitzer, vice president and principal owner of Tempel Grain, learned of the charges Tuesday morning and declined to comment on them immediately.

Freedman Farms Inc. and its president, William B. Freedman, pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court in New Bern, N.C., to violating the Clean Water Act when they discharged hog waste into a stream that leads to the Waccamaw River, the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina announced. After a week of trial that began June 28, Freedman Farms pleaded guilty to a felony violation of the Clean Water Act for discharging hog waste into Browder’s Branch, a tributary to the Waccamaw River that flows through the White Marsh, a large wetlands complex. Freedman Farms, located in Columbus County, N.C., is in the business of raising hogs for market, and this particular farm had some 4,800 hogs. The hog waste should have been directed to two lagoons for treatment and disposal. In December 2007, hog waste was discharged from Freedman Farms directly to Browder’s Branch. William Freedman pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor violation of the Clean Water Act for his role in the discharge. “Owners and operators of concentrated animal feeding operations must comply with the nation’s Clean Water Act for the protection of America’s streams, wetlands, and rivers,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division at the Department of Justice. “Freedman and his farm failed to do so and should be held accountable for polluting waterways and wetlands in Columbus County and the Waccamaw River watershed.” “The hog industry is vital to North Carolina. However, we must protect our natural resources that affect other vital interests in our beautiful state,” said U.S. Attorney George E.B. Holding. “In order to assure the well-being of all, we must ensure that everyone takes care of these precious and finite resources.” “Large farms and dairies can cause serious damage to the environment if they illegally discharge wastewater into nearby lakes, rivers, and streams,” said Maureen O’Mara, special agent in charge of EPA’s criminal enforcement program for North Carolina. “That is why EPA has made addressing violations by concentrated animal feeding operations an enforcement priority. In this case, waste products from nearly five thousand hogs went directly into a sensitive wetland area, jeopardizing the safety and health of water and wildlife. This guilty plea demonstrates that farm owners must obey the law and will be held responsible for their actions.” The Clean Water Act is a federal law that makes it illegal to knowingly or negligently discharge a pollutant into a water of the United States. The act includes as waters of the United States those that have a significant nexus to a traditional navigable water. According to the plea agreement, the government and the corporate defendant have jointly asked the court to sentence Freedman Farms to pay $1.5 million, serve a term of five years’ probation, and publish a public apology. Under the plea agreement for William Freedman, the defendant faces up to one year in prison. If the court decides to accept the plea agreement, the sentencing hearing for both defendants will take place on a date to be scheduled by the court, before U.S. Chief District Judge Louise W. Flanagan.

NEW YORK–A site safety manager and a demolition foreman have been acquitted of manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, and reckless endangerment charges in a case stemming from an August 2007 fire that killed two New York City firefighters, prosecutors said June 29 (People v. Belofchik, N.Y. Sup. Ct., No. 06425/2008, 6/29/11).

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http://www.alcoda.org/news/archives/2011/jun/contractor_sentenced_fraud

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley announced that defendant Monica Mui Ung, 51, owner and president of NBC General Contractor Corporation (NBC), was sentenced in Alameda County Superior Court today.

On April 18, 2011, Ung pled guilty to felony violations involving prevailing wage fraud (Labor Code 1778), workers compensation premium fraud (Insurance Code 11880), and admitted a white-collar crime enhancement (Penal Code 186.11). Today, Ung was sentenced to 4 years State Prison (execution suspended), and placed on ten years felony probation (reducible to three years if restitution is paid in full and upon further review and order of the court.) The court ordered that she pay $350,000 in restitution for the underpaid wages to the individual workers, and $850,000.00 in restitution to State Compensation Insurance Fund if paid within five years, or $1.5 million if not. The Court also stated that Ung cannot act as a contractor unless and until all restitution is paid in full and upon further order of the court.

Ung, who owned and had operated NBC since 1995, was awarded contracts for many for public works construction projects such as the Daly City Fire Station, Moscone Club House, El Cerrito City Hall, Walnut Creek Civic Center, Laney College, the Oakland Library, Willard Middle School, and Piedmont Elementary School. These projects mandated compliance with state prevailing wage laws, workers compensation insurance laws, and union labor requirements. From May 1, 2003 through May 1, 2007, NBC was awarded at least 27 public works projects in Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin counties.

NBC exploited its employees by failing to pay prevailing wages, overtime, sick leave, pension, health care, training, vacation, and other statutory benefits as required by labor laws. NBC falsely issued certified payroll reports that deliberately stated incorrect hours worked, amounts paid, and employee names. This resulted in payroll losses to forty-three individual workers identified as victims in the case between 1999 and 2008.

DA O’Malley states, “My Office is dedicated to ensuring the rights of individual workers in our community. In this case, many of the workers are non-English speaking and were fearful of coming forward. They found themselves part of a captive labor force working in the underground economy, and victimized by the predatory practices of dishonest employers. We will continue to vigorously prosecute unscrupulous employers, seek victim restitution and ensure safe and fair working conditions for all employees.”

Additionally, Ung and her staff severely under-reported to both the awarding public agencies and to her insurance company wage, hour, type of work, and benefits information for over 70 employees. NBC illegally saved a significant amount in overhead by underpaying workers’ compensation premiums and their employees’ wages. Ung’s illegal acts exposed the insurer to additional risk, robbed the employees of their proper wages and benefits, and created an unfair bidding environment for all other legitimate bidders for public works contracts. According to D.A. O’Malley, “Public works projects are normally awarded to the lowest bidder. By falsely reporting information, NBC gained a competitive advantage over honest contractors, and by underbidding, NBC was awarded jobs it might not otherwise have gotten.”

In February of 2011, NBC accountant Joey Ruan and assistant Tin Wai Wu pled guilty to four misdemeanor violations of premium fraud, prevailing wage fraud, and filing false public documents in exchange for their testimony and cooperation in the Ung case. In addition, they will serve over 390 hours of community service, be placed on three years probation and pay around $15, 000 in fines and restitution.

This case was prosecuted by the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office. The investigation was conducted by the California Department of Insurance with assistance from the Employment Development Department, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration, the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement of the Department of Industrial Relations, and State Compensation Insurance Fund.

“This is clearly a case of an unscrupulous building contractor misrepresenting the facts and illegally and unfairly winning public works projects,” said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. “My department will investigate any business owner who tries to cheat the system in order to gain an unfair advantage.”

“Public dollars should not be given to employers who ignore California’s laws and the state is committed to enforcement efforts that preserve a level playing field. Employers who intentionally skirt the law and defraud workers and the public have no place on public works projects,” said California Labor Commissioner Julie Su. “We value our partnership with the Alameda District Attorney’s office and partnering government agencies. This collaboration was vital in uncovering a multitude of illegal practices and holding this contractor fully accountable.”

“This defendant showed a gross disregard for the welfare of her workers,” said Jean Ackerman, director of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration’s San Francisco regional office. “This case is an excellent example of federal, state and local authorities working together. The Department of Labor will continue to work across agencies to ensure that workers keep the benefits they earn.”