The owners of the discount clothing store in Washington Heights where a worker was crushed to death by a malfunctioning elevator seem to have been violating numerous laws, starting with installing the elevator without a permit. Jose Fernandez, 43, died when the elevator lurched up as he was loading boxes onto it at the West 182nd Street store La Reguera Dominicana on Saturday.

The store occupies a two-story apartment building on a lot that is zoned residential, and its certificate of occupancy describes it as a building with one apartment on the ground floor and six furnished rooms upstairs, meaning there should not even be a business there.

In December, building inspectors cited owner Ortal Salman for violating the building's occupancy certificate, fining her $1,200. Another violation, from 2006, shows that an auto body shop that used to operate out of the building had illegally turned the neighboring parking lot into an extension of its illicit business.

Workers and neighbors that the Daily News spoke to said that the owners of La Reguera Dominicana had the elevator installed in the last six months to a year, when the store took over. The DOB website shows no permit on file for the elevator. Following Fernandez's death, the agency ordered the building vacated while investigators examine it further.

Juan Antonio Nunez, a worker at the store, told NY1 he was working with Fernandez at the time of the grisly, possibly preventable tragedy.

"I asked him for a box of sweaters to sell," Nunez said. "He was coming with the box in the elevator when his head got stuck."

Fernandez's friend, Tony Sosa, told the News that he'd heard the business's owners command Fernandez to fix the elevator in the past.

"Not even the owners will go back there," Sosa told the tabloid. "He was the only one to go back there."

Sosa said that Fernandez sometimes worked seven days a week, and often sent money to family members in the Domiincan Republic. It's not clear if bosses ordered Fernandez to work through the week, but if they had, it would have been a violation of a New York state labor law mandating that employees be given 24 hours off each calendar week.

"The bosses never did any work. [Fernandez] did all the work," Sosa said. "He was just trying to make a dollar."

It's not clear if Salman owns the business as well as the building, or just the building. The state has no record of a corporation registering under the name La Reguera Dominicana.

Salman and a man described in property records as her husband Yehezkel, who previously owned the building with her, did not immediately respond to messages left at numbers listed for them. A man who answered to Yehezkel Salman claimed that he is not affiliated with the building. The man said that though he is related to the couple, "I'm not in touch with the family."