Last May, a crumbling façade on an Upper West Side building killed two-year-old Greta Greene, injured her grandmother, and set off a probe by the Department of Investigation, which found that an engineer, 55-year-old Maqsood Faruqi, had falsified a 2011 inspection stating that the façade was safe. Faruqi took a deal with the DA and pleaded guilty to filing a false instrument, and yesterday, he was sentenced to just two years probation, the NY Post reports.
The tragic accident took place on May 18, 2015, when debris fell from The Esplanade at 305 West End Avenue and struck Greene and her grandmother, 60-year-old Susan Frierson. Greene had been in a stroller beside Frierson, who was sitting on a sidewalk bench. Greene was rushed to surgery in critical condition, but was soon pronounced brain dead and removed from life support.
The subsequent DOI investigation found that back in 2007, the Department of Buildings had ordered The Esplanade to file a façade inspection report, and The Esplanade hired a construction company in 2008 to do so. Faruqi, who was at the time working for that company, filed a report in February 2011 stating that the façade was acceptable.
Then in 2014, a private building consultant told the DOB that the building's façade was in "scary" condition, recommending that they "get someone over pretty quick on this...[L]ooks scary...lets get it before winter sets in...the building is nursing home looks a little lower budget." The DOI's investigation found that the DOB failed to take action after receiving that email. In response to that finding, Mayor de Blasio ordered the DOB to establish a new system of tracking façade inspections.
Upon the findings of Faruqi's falsification and the DOB's lack of action, Greene's parents, Jayson and Stacy Greene, said that they hoped it would "lead to stricter regulations surrounding building inspections and repairs citywide, and that we can prevent what happened to Greta from ever happening again. We remain heartbroken over our loss, and it is painful for us to discover just how preventable it was."
In an interview with the DOI, Faruqi admitted that he'd never inspected the building or reviewed maintenance reports or repair records for the façade. He was charged with filing a false instrument and could have been sentenced to as many as four years in prison.
The building owners were cited for failing to maintain the property and paid $1,000, according to DOB records. As of today, the building still has 16 open violations.