Looming high-profile criminal trials involving two construction industry executives are facing new delays.
In a Nov. 9 arraignment in U.S. District Court in Newark, N.J., regarding the federal fraud case against former Louis Berger Group CEO Derish Wolff, Judge Garrett E. Brown Jr. granted attorneys' requests for a 60-day continuance, until Jan. 9. The extra time is to gather evidence and set a schedule for proposed legal motions and a trial start.
Also, earlier this month, New York County Supreme Court Judge Daniel P. Conviser adjourned, to Feb. 21, the negligent homicide and manslaughter trial of crane company executive James F. Lomma, 65, in a 2008 fatal crane collapse in Manhattan. The trial had been set to start this month.
In the case of Wolff, whose Oct. 20 indictment was unsealed on Oct. 31 on federal charges of intentionally inflating overhead costs on hundreds of millions of federal contracts over 20 years, defense and prosecution attorneys claimed in a Nov. 9 court filing that they needed the extra time because the case was "sufficiently complex."
The filing, noting that the case would involve "300 boxes of physical documents and more than one million files of electronic material," said that "the ends of justice served by granting the continuance outweigh the best interests of the public and the defendant in a speedy trial."
Wolff, 76, was charged with intentionally conspiring to bill the U.S. Agency for International Development at inflated rates related to the firm's contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Attorneys for Wolff, based in Roseland, N.J., did not return repeated ENR requests for comment on the order and an estimated trial date. On Oct. 20, Wolff was released on $1 million bail, secured by property. Louis Berger earlier agreed to pay $69.3 million to settle cirminal and civil charged related to activity by Wolff and other former employees.
Similarly, in the Lomma case, attorneys were granted additional time to review complex evidence and other materials, according to a court document obtained by ENR. Lomma was indicted related to the collapse of a tower crane that killed union crane operator Donald C. Leo and a worker, Ramadan Kurtaj. Lomma ran New York Crane, the rental firm that owned the crane.
On Oct. 5, Tibor Varganyi, former head mechanic of New York Crane, changed his previous plea to guilty and agreed to testify against Lomma and the firm, which was also indicted.