A New York-based construction safety firm and 25 individuals were indicted Feb. 28 for allegedly operating a bogus safety training school, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's office says. The firm, Valor Security & Investigations is also linked to “endangering the life” of Ivan Frias, who fell to his death from the 15th floor of a New York City construction site in 2022.

Valor allegedly issued safety certificated and cards to approximately 20,000 workers, and became the third-largest safety certifier in New York City between December 2019 and April 2023, the DA's office said in a statement.

“We allege that Valor Security & Investigations ran a fraudulent safety training school, falsely claiming that construction workers received the necessary training required to work on construction sites," Bragg says. "We also allege that the death of one recipient, Ivan Frias, may have been prevented if not for the defendants’ reckless failure to train him."

The 36-year-old Frias reportedly fell off scaffolding at a residential building undergoing facade repairs in 2022. 

The Valor charges follow an earlier indictment of the owners of two Brooklyn companies for making and selling fake OSHA and Building Dept. Safety Cards.

Valor allegedly filed documents certifying that Frias had completed 10 hours of safety training, including eight hours of safety protection, but it had never provided any training to him, the DA says. 

Valor also filed documents with the Dept. of Buildings claiming it provided safety training to hundreds of students while video surveillance revealed empty classrooms, the DA adds. The firm also filed safety certificated for students using the abbreviation “LNU” meaning “last name unknown.”

Valor and its founder, Alexander Shaporov, could not be reached for comment. 

Dept. of Building Commission Jimmy Oddo says building construction–related fatalities fell to a nine-year-low last year due to construction safety training requirements for workers on larger work sites. “Construction safety training is helping to save lives, but the actions of these defendants could have undermined this progress in the interest of quick profits,” Oddo said in the DA's statement. 

Allegedly “the defendants issued cards for a fee certifying the required 40 hours of safety training for individuals working at construction sites without providing training,” the statement says. Additionally, 19 people, including a NYC Housing Authority foreman and two master plumbers were charged with “acting as brokers by connecting individuals seeking certification” with Valor. 

Nineteen of these “brokers,” included two licensed master plumbers for Flow Right Plumbing & Heating Corp. and KCM Plumbing & Heating Co., four employees of DeMar Plumbing Corp., a principal of Alpha Construction Services, and a NYC Housing Authority employee are charged with various counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree and offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree, the statement says.

Valor, President Alexander Shaporov, 40; Training Director Richard Marini, 70; Instructor Eliot Sosinov, 44; General Manager Nigina Zokirova, 24; Compliance Director Marina Balzer, 28; and Director of Business Development Rimma Chakalyan, 24; are charged in the indictment with enterprise corruption, including 261 pattern acts related to their yearslong scheme.

At least four Valor employees, including Zokirova, Balzer, Chakhalan and Shaporov, “allegedly submitted fraudulent resumes to OSHA to obtain their teaching credentials to be able to teach and issue safety certificates,” the statement says. “Two of these trainers claimed they purportedly gained some of the required high-rise inspection construction experience when they were only 16 or 17 years old.”

Additionally, financial records reveal that nearly $1 million in payments were deposited into Shaporov’s personal account. Those payments were primarily small amounts “consistent with the cost of the safety courses” which allegedly enabled him to purchase luxury items for his personal use.  

They are also charged with multiple counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree and offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree.

In March 2021, a New York city law went into effect requiring construction workers at major jobsites to complete 40 hours of safety training and Valor was among the many firms approved by the Buildings Dept. to provided courses and safety certification for workers. 

The investigation was jointly conducted by the NYC Dept. of Investigation and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.