Thursday, October 13, 2005

Plea Bargain For Company Owner Who Killed Worker In A Trench

This seems kind of odd.

I wrote last week that U.S. Attorney in Pittsburgh had charged Glen Wagner and Wagner Excavation Services, of North Fayette Township, Pennsylvania with willful violation of Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations for the trench death of William Partin.

Yesterday, Wagner pleaded guilty to knowingly violating federal workplace guidelines that resulted in a trench collapse and an employee's death. Wagner faces up to six months in jail, $250,000 in fines and a year of probation for the misdemeanor charge and his company faces up to $500,000 in fines and a year probation. The Pittsburgh Tribune Review reports, however that federal prosecutors had reached a plea agreement and were recommending that Wagner and his company each pay a fine of $25,000 and restitution to the victim's family under terms set by the court. Wagner's company had previously been fined $382,875 for violating the law.

I obviously don't know any of the details of this case, but what's the point of filing criminal charges if you're going to let the guy off with another $25,000? If the case is weak, why bother filing charges in the firt place, and if it's a strong case, why settle a few days later for a fraction of the possible penalty?

Is this supposed to be an effective lesson for workpace killers?