A former employee of a company that owned a crane that collapsed two years ago on the Upper East Side and killed two people has pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide and agreed to testify against his former boss.
By pleading guilty, the former employee, Tibor Varganyi, will avoid a second-degree manslaughter charge that carried a potential 15-year prison sentence. Mr. Varganyi, 65, could be spared jail time if he cooperates with the prosecution of James F. Lomma, the owner of New York Crane and Equipment Corporation, according to a transcript of an Oct. 5 hearing.
During the Oct. 5 hearing, Mr. Varganyi admitted that in May 2007, he was commissioned by Mr. Lomma to have the turntables of some of the company’s cranes repaired. Mr. Varganyi passed on two companies in the United States that could have repaired the turntables because Mr. Lomma, 65, thought they would have taken too long, according to the transcript.
The weld cracked while the crane was being operated on May 30, 2008, prosecutors said, causing the crane to fall and kill the operator, Donald C. Leo, and another construction worker, Ramadan Kurtaj.


Massey Energy’s security director at the Upper Big Branch Mine was found guilty Wednesday of lying to federal agents and attempting to destroy evidence in the investigation of the April 2010 explosion that killed 29 miners.

A 12-person jury returned its verdict after nearly six hours of deliberations in the case of Hughie Elbert Stover, a former Raleigh County deputy and longtime security director at Upper Big Branch.

Stover now faces up to 25 years in prison for two felony counts of making a false statement and trying to cover up records in a federal investigation.

Both charges focused on Stover’s involvement in what prosecutors say was a widespread practice at Upper Big Branch of security guards helping to warn underground workers when government safety inspectors arrived.

U.S. District Judge Irene C. Berger scheduled sentencing for Feb. 29.

Keith Phillips, 61, of Kent, Texas, a former special agent with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Criminal Investigation Division (CID) in Dallas pleaded guilty in the Western District of Louisiana on October 3, 2011, to a two-count Indictment filed on July 27, 2011, charging him with obstruction of justice and perjury.
Judge Doherty found that Agent Phillips intentionally misled the prosecutor, his bosses and the court in the evidence against Vidrine. The ruse was all part of Phillips plan to spend more time with his out-of-town mistress and provide an alibi should Phillips wife raise any questions about his whereabouts.

Judge Doherty of the United States District Court for the Western Louisiana handed down a decision on Sept. 30 in the case of Vidrine v. United States. The judge awarded $1.7 million in damages for a malicious prosecution to the one-time criminal defendant. But that wasn’t the only twist in this “slick”case.

Hubert Vidrine had been charged with knowingly storing hazardous waste materials without a permit for storing used oil at a refinery site.

However, there was scant evidence that the oil counted as hazardous waste. And, there was no evidence that Vidrine had knowledge of what was happening at the storage site.

The government went on to dismiss its own “loose” case and Vidrine subsequently filed his own case in retaliation under the Federal Tort Claims Act. Vidrine maintained that he was the victim of malicious prosecution.

The case of malicious prosecution focused on misconduct by EPA Technical and Regularity Expert Keith Phillips, an agent on the case and the person responsible for developing the case against Vidrine.