- Last Updated: 2:17 PM, July 20, 2012
- Posted: 2:09 PM, July 20, 2012
A city inspector who became the poster boy for haphazard oversight after two Manhattan tower cranes collapsed in 2008 was cleared on technicalities of the top charges against him today -- but was still convicted of lying on paperwork to shirk inspections.
Edward Marquette, 50, now faces anywhere from zero to four years prison time when he is sentenced Oct. 1 by Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Thomas Farber, who presided over the disgraced Department of Buildings inspector's non-jury trial this month and rendered the mixed verdict shortly before lunch.
Marquette was never found in any way responsible for the massive cranes that fell in Midtown in March and in the Upper East Side in May of that year, killing a total of nine people.
But all of his records were pulled after inspectors realized he'd been scheduled to inspect the East 51st Street crane just 11 days before it fell -- and hadn't. Prosecutors found Marquette repeatedly lied on paperwork to claim he'd inspected cranes, when cell phone records showed he was actually at his Hell's Kitchen residence.
The judge convicted Marquette of six charges of filing false paperwork, falsifying business records and official misconduct.
"It was really part of a pattern of practice for the defendant to make representations that he was where he was supposed to be, when in fact he was no where near there," the judge said.
The judge cleared him of all counts relating to his failure to inspect the E. 51st Street crane before it collapsed -- but only because Marquette's incriminating paperwork had never actually been filed with his superiors, as a conviction would require.
"He is not guilty … based solely on the people's failure to prove that the March 4 route sheet was ever filed," Farber explained.
Marquette was additionally cleared -- again on a technicality -- of the top charges against him, four counts of first degree tampering with public records. Again, the evidence didn't fit the letter of the law, the judge explained. "There is no evidence the defendant went in and tampered with a document that was already a public record," he said.
Marquette was allowed to remain free with no bail pending his sentencing; his lawyer, Andrew Freifeld, said he will appeal the convictions, but blasted prosecutors for ever even filing the acquitted charges.
"They overcharged him," said Freifeld, who had complained during summations that Marquette was scapegoated for collapses that had nothing to do with him.