Lomma’s colleagues—others involved in the crane and hoisting buisness—said the judge’s ruling was fair.

“We’re not celebrating this; there is a tragedy involved,” said Frank Bardonaro, vice president and managing director of Terex Corp.’s crane segment. “But if every CEO of every airplane that crashed was put on trial for manslaughter, there wouldn’t be any more planes in the air.”

Bardonaro added: “It was tragic, and we all fear accidents in the business, but no one in the industry ever thought that there was any criminal problem here. The facts are that this guy runs a very professional company, with state of the art equipment, and he’s not a rich, greedy guy. He gives to the industry, he gives to the community and he is on the forefront of safety.”

Unresolved Safety Issues

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the city’s Dept. of Buildings are seeking ">new rules requiring national licenses for crane operators, but the operating engineers union opposes the change.

Prosecutors last year ">failed to win convictions of a rigger in connection with another fatal tower crane collapse in Manhattan in 2008. They also failed to convict, in a jury trial last year, three construction manager staff members charged in connection to a fire at a high-rise that was being demolished at Ground Zero.Two firefighters perished in that fire.

A spokesman for Local 14 of the operating engineers' union, to which Donald Leo belonged, declined comment on the verdict until there was more detail provided "on the judge's thinking."

But some union sources did not agree with the contention that errors by Leo were the reason for the acquittal, but that manslaughter charges brought against Lomma were too difficult to prove. "The case was overcharged," says one.

The source believes the families of the dead workers will "get satisfaction" in pursuing civil actions and a likely settlement with Lomma and his companies.