Author Topic: Contractor charged with murder in Philly collapse  (Read 199 times)

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Offline flowers

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Contractor charged with murder in Philly collapse
« on: November 25, 2013, 04:10:11 PM »

A contractor who led a botched building demolition that killed six people inside an adjacent store will face murder charges for allegedly using reckless methods to perform the low-bid job.

Prosecutors described Griffin Campbell as "the center of culpability for the collapse," and said he ignored an architect's warning the night before that disaster was imminent. He was charged with six counts each of third-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter.

"The tragic and preventable collapse ... robbed our city of six amazing Philadelphians that perished in the rubble and left an additional 13 wounded," Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said at a news conference.

Griffin's subcontractor, equipment operator Sean Benschop, was charged this summer with involuntary manslaughter over the June collapse, and has been in custody.

The building owner who chose Campbell's $112,000 bid to take down three attached storefronts _ when other bids were two or three times that amount _ was not charged Monday. However, the grand jury has not finished its work, and Williams declined comment on whether owner Richard Basciano could be charged.

In the collapse, an unsupported brick wall crashed down onto a neighboring Salvation Army store, trapping shoppers and workers. Campbell was also charged with risking a catastrophe and criminal conspiracy in addition to the six counts of third-degree murder, six counts of involuntary manslaughter and 13 counts of endangerment.

A call to his cellphone went unanswered, but he was expected to surrender to detectives Monday afternoon.

Benschop allegedly operated heavy equipment while high on marijuana and painkillers. In addition to the earlier charges, the grand jury charged him Monday with criminal conspiracy.

Williams said Campbell alone chose the demolition method, cutting corners to meet a deadline and cut costs, as he was being paid a flat fee.

Rather than work from the top down and brace unsupported walls, Campbell instead removed the building's facade, then took out floor joists that he was given the right to salvage from the front of the four-story building to the back, authorities said. That left the brick side walls unsupported.

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