US contractor owner goes to prison after employee dies in fall

The owner of a contractor in Ohio has been sentenced to three years in prison after an employee suffered a fatal fall on one of his company’s projects.

According to reports in the Akron Beacon Journal, James Coon, 53, was sentenced on Friday after pleading guilty in July to involuntary manslaughter and worker’s compensation fraud.

The employee who died was 39-year-old Gerardo Juarez. He fell from a three-story apartment complex in Akron, Ohio, while repairing its roof in November 2017. Coon’s was prosecuted for failing to provide safety equipment and failing to take out worker’s compensation coverage.

Under a plea agreement, prosecutors dismissed charges of reckless homicide and fraud. Coon’s attorney said his client was remorseful and had accepted responsibility.

Judge Alison McCarty pointed out that two other workers with James Coon Construction had either fallen off or through roofs in the past 20 years. She commented: "Certainly, you didn’t intend for this to happen, Mr Coon, and I believe you are remorseful. That doesn’t change the fact it did happen, and it could have been prevented."

McCarty said she would consider allowing Coon out of prison early. She ordered him to pay $303,152 in restitution to the Ohio Bureau of Worker’s Compensation.

Image: ©GCR, illustration by Denis Carrier

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