A former chief inspector of New York City's buildings department may have incriminated himself twice while testifying in a criminal case against a crane executive—who was also his former boss. That was the view of lawyers for the victims of a fatal 2008 Manhattan crane collapse, for which James Lomma is on trial. He is accused of negligent homicide and other charges in the high-rise accident that killed operator Donald Leo and sewer worker Ramadan Kurtaj.

Prosecutors believe the crane supplied by Lomma had a poorly repaired turntable. In his testimony, Michael Carbone, the former regulator and onetime employee of a Lomma-owned company, said he examined the turntable before the accident. He was vigorously questioned about his ties to Lomma. Lawyers for the victims, who have civil suits against Lomma, believe Carbone's answers may have opened him up to perjury and corruption charges.

Assistant District Attorney Deborah Hickey told Judge Daniel Conviser on March 2 that Carbone's testimonies in the case "vary proceeding after proceeding, day to day, often within the same day." Carbone later testified that he once accepted two $100 payments after inspections from a different crane operator. "It was a thank-you," he said. Attorney Glenn Fuerth, who is representing Lomma in civil suits by the victims' families, would not reply to questions about the significance of Carbone's testimony.

Prosecutors believe Carbone has tried to cover for Lomma by giving inconsistent testimony. Carbone insists they did not have a personal relationship and denied the prosecution's suggestions that they were seen together at social events. Carbone's phone records showed several calls with Lomma on the day of another fatal collapse two months earlier, say prosecutors. Carbone insisted he did not remember any of those calls.

Carbone said he realized after showing up at the second accident site that the crane turntable was the same one he had inspected two months earlier.

At the time, Carbone said he was suspended from the buildings agency but that he had not yet been forced to resign. He said he met with Lomma again to consider a job, but that the defendant ruled out a working relationship because they were both under investigation. Under cross-examination, Carbone told the defense attorney for Lomma's companies, also defendants, that the men never discussed the substance of those probes.