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Prosecutors allege sham safety school gave bogus certifications to thousands of NYC construction workers

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(NEW YORK) — A company and six of its executives were charged Wednesday in New York with allegedly operating a sham safety school that said it certified thousands of construction workers as properly trained when, in fact, it had not, prosecutors say.

Prosecutors said the alleged fraud cost at least one worker, Ivan Frias, his life in 2022 in a fall from the 15th floor of a job site on the Upper West Side.

According to the indictment, Valor Security and Investigations purported to have trained 20,000 construction workers between December 2019 and April 2023, claiming the workers were fully trained in “safety training, safety inspections, safety plans and security services” after 40 hours of instruction.

Instead, Valor allegedly issued “thousands and thousands of safety certificates and cards without providing any training at all,” according to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, charging between $300 and $600 for a bogus site safety training card.

“New York City construction workers have one of the most dangerous jobs in the city,” Bragg said Wednesday. “Fraud has dire consequences. Fraud can mean life or death.”

Construction workers have been required by law to receive safety training since 2017.

Valor, its president, Alexander Shaporov, and five other employees are charged with enterprise corruption, according to the indictment. Nineteen alleged brokers, including two master plumbers, were charged with criminal possession of a forged instrument. The plumbers’ licenses have been suspended.

The defendants were all arrested Wednesday morning and are expected to appear in court later the same day. It was not immediately clear whether any had obtained lawyers.

Prosecutors said they obtained text messages and emails that quote Shaporov allegedly telling his employees on one occasion to “make one up” for 40 purported trainees who lacked the requisite safety cards.

Frias died in November 2022 when he fell from the 15th floor of a construction site on West End Avenue. According to the indictment, Valor allegedly falsely certified that Frias had completed 10 hours of safety training, including eight hours of fall protection.

“I think every New Yorker has a right to be a little disgusted,” New York City Buildings Commissioner Jimmy Oddo said Wednesday, adding the department would consider revoking Valor’s license to issue safety cards.

Oddo said any construction worker who received a card from Valor should seek retraining.

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