Indictment against Chinese construction company

(Excerpt from Press Release)

The Santa Clara County Grand Jury has returned an indictment for involuntary manslaughter against a Fremont-based construction company, its owner, and project manager, for causing the 2012 cave-in death of an employee.

Raul Zapata Mercado, 38, was killed by the collapse of a 12-foot dirt wall on a hillside property in Milpitas, where a residence was being built by the general contractor, U.S.-Sino Investment Inc.

On January 25, 2012, after several days of rain, a city building inspector gave a “Stop Work” notice to the project manger because of the danger of a cave-in. The work did not stop. Three days later, Mercado was crushed to death.

Dan Luo, 36, the project manager, was arraigned today. Following the indictment, a $1,000,000 arrest warrant was issued for the company’s owner and CEO, 52-year-old Richard Liu, formerly of Fremont, who is believed to be in China. All three defendants – the company is also identified as a defendant – are charged with the felony crime of involuntary manslaughter. The maximum sentence is 3 years in prison. U.S. Sino faces a fine of up to $1,500,000 for Labor Code violations.

An employer is generally required to have an excavation permit for projects in which a person will be working in trenches or excavations that are 5 feet or deeper. Excavation permits are issued by the local offices of the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (commonly known as Cal-OSHA). No excavation permit was obtained for the U.S.-Sino project on Calaveras Ridge Drive.

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