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William Lattarulo


Ortego, an undocumented construction worker, died when the trench he was working in collapsed and caused a wall from a neighboring home to collapse. William Lattarulo, the site owner, had listed a contractor as overseeing the digging of a foundation for a new coin laundry at the lot, but he actually supervised the work himself to save $90,000, despite that he lacked experience. He hired day laborers for $100 per day. On the morning of the incident, Lauro Ortego was digging the foundation in a trench beside a home owned by Lattarulo. The laundry's foundation was to be much deeper than that of the home, requiring the underpinning of the home's foundation to prevent a collapse. A consultant warned that the new foundation was unstable, but Lattarulo ignored the warnings and told Ortego to keep digging. Moments later, the wall collapsed onto Ortego, killing him. A second worker was injured in the incident. The same day of the incident, the building commissioner had visited the site and noted evidence of shoddy work conditions and issued a stop work order. Lattarulo had hired an architect in 2005 to design building plans, and the architect than subcontracted the work to Abraham Hertzberg, a professional engineer with Sanchez Associates. Hertzberg had lost his authority to self-certify architectural designs and used his partner's stamp to certify the design in Mr. Sanchez's name. Hertzberg also signed Sanchez's name onto documents for building permit applications for Lattarulo's project.



Incident Type

Wall/Building Collapse




New York


March 12, 2008

Available case materials include

  • Case/Court Decisions
  • Media Clips & Gov't. Press

OSHA Inspection

Contact for Additional Information



First Last Age Title Employer Injury Type
Lauro Ortego 30 Construction Worker Unavailable Fatality
Unavailable Unavailable Unavailable Unavailable Unavailable Injury


Name Type Title Plea Information Conviction Sentence
Abraham Hertzberg Individual Engineer, Sanchez Associates Unavailable Unavailable
Penal Crimes Charged

First Degree Filing Fraudulent Plans (nine counts)

Other Crimes Charged


William Lattarulo Individual Site Owner Unavailable Acquitted.
Penal Crimes Charged

Second Degree Manslaughter; Criminally Negligent Homicide; Reckless Endangerment (2 counts)

Other Crimes Charged