Prison Time for Philly Contractor

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Demolition subcontractor Sean Benschop who was operating heavy machinery the day of the collapse was sentenced to 7 1/2 to 15 years in prison.

Co-defendant Griffin Campbell was the cut-rate contractor who gutted the building from the inside, destabilizing it, rather than take it down floor by floor. He was sentenced to 15 to 30 years.

Judge Glenn Bronson deemed Campbell a danger to the community, ignoring warnings the building was at risk of imminent collapse. And he said the collapse “shook this city to its core.”

The men were convicted of similar crimes, including involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault and causing a catastrophe, although a jury last year acquitted Campbell of third-degree murder. Benschop pleaded guilty and testified against Campbell.

Prosecutors said Campbell ignored standard demolition practices in order to salvage joists and other materials. The joints were resold for $6 apiece.

Campbell, 51, denied any profit motive, and said he had a long history of generosity in his North Philadelphia neighborhood.

He said he had been thrilled to get the $112,000 contract and hoped it would be his big break after years running a lunch truck.

Many families are suing building owner Richard Basciano , who was redeveloping the long-vacant strip of stores after owning them for about 20 years, along with the Salvation Army and other entities.

A city inspector who had visited the site committed suicide days later, although officials found no evidence of any wrongdoing.

The four others killed were Kimberly Finnegan , 34, a newly engaged woman working her first day at the thrift store; Bryan’s close friend, Mary Simpson ; Juanita Harmin , 75, a retired University of Pennsylvania secretary; and Roseline Conteh , 52, a mother of nine looking for bargains to send to her native Sierra Leone .

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