Company Owner Faces Criminal Charges

Construction company part-owner Nicholas Abbonizio was criminally-sentenced for violating OSHA's excavating standards.

Nicholas Abbonizio, part-owner of Alliance Construction Co., Ardmore, Pa., was sentenced last week for causing the death of two employees while willfully violating OSHA's excavating standards.

Abbonizio was sentenced to three years probation, three months home confinement under electronic monitoring, 200 hours of community service and fined $10,000.

He was also ordered by the court to reimburse the family of the deceased for all funeral expenses.

The case arose when Terry Houser and his son, Matthew, were working in a trench which had been excavated by Abbonizio on Nov. 13, 1996.

The walls of the trench were not protected, and the trench collapsed, killing both men.

Alliance Construction Co. also entered a plea of guilty and was also sentenced.

The company was put on three years probation and fined $15,000.

During the probationary period, Alliance Construction has to notify OSHA of any excavation project in which it is involved.

"The double fatality could have been avoided if the company had taken the necessary safety precautions for all employees required to work in trenches," said Richard D. Soltan, OSHA regional administrator. "We hope this sentencing will serve as a future deterrent to others in the industry, and will encourage them to dig trenches, not graves."

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