Three Brooklyn residents have been indicted for allegedly selling dozens of counterfeit safety and training certifications to New York construction workers who did not earn the document with required training.
District Attorney Eric Gonzalez’s office announced the move against 42-year-old Latecia Moore, 35-year-old Alex Kaushanskiy and 35-year-old Benedetto Bonello on Monday, slapping them with a slew of charges — including criminal possession of a forged instrument, forgery and falsifying business records.
According to prosecutors, the investigation was prompted by an NYCHA employee who reported discrepancies to the Department of Investigations regarding a contractor’s safety card upon a routine check.
As part of the investigation, the DOI executed a search warrant at Moore’s workplace — and recovered computers, a card printer and various counterfeit OSHA and SST cards.
The Bedford Stuyvesant resident allegedly manufactured and sold fake cards to customers for between $200 and $650 per card.
The DOI also sent undercover investigators into Kaushanskiy’s company, Odessa Safety, Inc., and Bonello’s company, National Site Safety LLC, to buy fraudulent certification cards.
Upon their request, the employees instructed the undercover investigators to complete course attendance sheets and evaluation forms, indicating completion of classes they never attended.
Kaushanskiy of Sheepshead Bay and his company were charged with three counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and three counts of first-degree falsifying business records. Bensonhurst resident Bonello and his company face two counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument.
“Evading regulations that ensure worksite safety training and certification is inexcusable and puts people’s lives at risk,” said DA Gonzalez. “Today’s indictments should send a strong message that when alleged fraudsters offer dangerous shortcuts, or attempt to profit by getting around safety requirements, they will face serious repercussions.”
Workers on construction projects requiring permits by the City’s Department of Buildings (DOB) must complete safety courses approved by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). These courses involve at least 10 hours of training for entry-level workers and a minimum of 30 hours of training for safety managers and coordinators. Once completed, workers receive a card indicating the certification, similar to the cards the defendants are alleged to have sold to customers who had never undergone training.
“As charged, these defendants made and sold illegitimate documents that purported to certify construction workers had the required training, when in fact they did not,” said Strauber. “City and federal agencies’ construction safety rules are not optional, and promoting work-around to rigorous courses and programs designed to ensure worker safety can and does lead to dangerous and tragic results.”
Bonello appeared before Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on April 17 and was released without bail and ordered to return to court on June 14.
Moore and Kaushanskiy both appeared before Chun on April 13, and they were also released without bail and ordered to return to court on June 13 and June 14.