By Kirstyn Brendlen
The owner of a Long Island construction company was indicted for manslaughter on Tuesday after a wall built by his company collapsed and killed a 5-year-old girl in 2019.
Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun arraigned 46-year-old Nadeem Anwar and his Nassau County-based construction company, City Wide Construction and Renovations, Inc., on charges of manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, falsifying business records, and more on Tuesday morning.
“The wall that this defendant allegedly built was a disaster waiting to happen,” said Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, in a release. “He allegedly failed to obtain the proper permits and failed to reinforce and secure the structure as required by law. As a direct consequence of his alleged recklessness, the wall collapsed and caused the senseless death of a precious 5-year-old child. My heart is with the victim’s family, and we will now seek to hold this defendant accountable.”
Anwar was released without bail and is expected to return to court on May 11. The top charge, manslaughter in the second degree, carries a charge of up to 15 years in prison.
According to the DA’s office, 5-year-old Alysson Pinto-Chaumana was standing on an enclosed patio on Harman Street in Bushwick with her mother and several friends on August 19, 2019, when a heavy stone pillar and a stone plate, which had been supporting a tall wall, suddenly collapsed and fell onto Pinto-Chaumana, crushing her skull and killing her.
An investigation by the DA’s office and the city’s Department of Buildings found that Anwar, a licensed contractor, had allegedly violated the city’s building code multiple times while renovating the building in 2018. While he and his company are licensed in Nassau County, there were not authorized to work in New York City, and had another contractor file an application on his behalf — but the application was not for building the wall that later collapsed. Further, the investigation found that Anwar had not acquired a permit to build the stone wall, and did not have an architect or engineer inspect the wall after construction, as is required by law.
During the investigation, a DOB engineer found that the wall had been built without the steel reinforcements or engineer-grade adhesive required by the city’s building code, and that the wall was mostly held together “by its own weight and gravity.” That engineer described the wall as “imminently perilous to life.”
“Performing construction work without the necessary permits can have devastating consequences,” said DOB acting commissioner Constadino Sirakis. “This indictment sends a strong message to the construction industry that this City will not tolerate bad actors who cut corners and jeopardize the safety of our fellow New Yorkers. I would like to personally thank our partners at the District Attorney’s Office and at the Department of Investigation for bringing criminal charges in this important case.”
This story first appeared on BrooklynPaper.com.