For release on August 11, 2014   CONTACT:
Bud Porter, Deputy District Attorney
Workplace Safety Unit
(408) 792-2962   GRAND JURY INDICTS COMPANY, OWNER, MANAGER FOR CAVE-IN DEATH OF WORKER IN MILPITAS   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.   District Attorney Jeff Rosen said: “This case is about what happens when construction companies cut corners on safety. Workplace safety is not an option. What happened to Raul Zapata Mercado was not an accident, it was a crime.”   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.   Mercado, of Hayward, is survived by his wife and three children, of Zacatecas, Mexico.   # # #

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