Attorneys claim collapse workers are being ‘scapegoated,’ after motion to drop conspiracy charges denied

Rescue workers search for victims and clear debris from a building that collapsed at 22nd and Market Streets, June 5, 2013 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Credit: Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images)
Rescue workers search for victims and clear debris from the building collapse at 22nd and Market streets, which occurred on June 5, 2013. Credit: Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images)

General contractor Griffin Campbell and backhoe operator Sean Benschop, facing murder charges for the deaths of six people inside the Salvation Army which collapsed June 5, 2013 while Griffin and Campbell were demolishing the building next door, failed to get conspiracy charges against them dropped Tuesday.

Prosecutors say Campbell and Benschop allegedly “conspired” by allowing a dangerous demolition to take place, according to their lawyers.

But Benschop’s lawyer Daine A. Grey Jr. said his client has been “scapegoated” for following orders on June 5.

“If he hadn’t followed directions, they would’ve got somebody else … What you have is somebody who had a criminal record, who had a crazy-looking mugshot, who looked like they’d be the person who be the perfect scapegoat,” Grey said.

“I think they’ve been overzealous in the fact that while they’ve looked at my client and the general contractor, there were a number of entities more culpable, who controlled methods and means of demolition, who have not been looked at, who they’re not going after or who they’re using to prosecute my client,” he said.

Griffin’s lawyer William Hobson also said his client has been “overcharged.”

“If that job site was so apparently dangerous, why wouldn’t Plato [Marinakos] as the board-certified architect say ‘Hey stop this’?” Hobson asked. “L&I never shut it down, OSHA never shut it down. My guy, he’s not just on the low end of the totem pole. He’s an easy target.”

Hobson pointed out that other workers on the project who removed joists from the structure under demolition prior to the collapse, which he said significantly decreased the stability of the structure, have not been arrested or charged for their actions.

Philadelphia D.A.’s Office prosecutor Jennifer Selber, who handled the hearing today, did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

Campbell and Benschop remain incarcerated.


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