Indicted company accuses AG Coakley of chasing settlements

John O'Brien Sep. 6, 2007, 1:52pm


BOSTON - The company blamed for a fatal tunnel collapse during Boston's ongoing roadway construction project says Attorney General Martha Coakley is looking for a scapegoat and trying to scare other companies into settlements.

On Wednesday, Powers Fasteners pleaded not guilty to a manslaughter charge stemming from the July 2006 death of 38-year-old Milena Del Valle.

Powers Fasteners marketed and distributed the epoxy anchor bolt system used on the I-90 Connector Tunnel, part of the Big Dig project that's construction started in 1991. In July 2006, 38-year-old Milena Del Valle was killed when a suspended concrete ceiling panel collapsed on her vehicle.

A report by The Associated Press quoted company President Jeffrey Powers, who called the indictment "ridiculous" and "scandalous."

"Powers is an easy target," he added. "We are only a pawn in her chess game for the really big money."

Coakley responded to the comment Thursday.

"Evidence has been presented to a Grand Jury, which upon carefully reviewing that evidence found probable cause to indict Powers Fasteners for manslaughter..." she said. "Powers is innocent until proven guilty. The allegations will be tried in the only appropriate venue -- in the courtroom.

"To suggest that the prosecution of Powers Fasteners is motivated by anything other than the pursuit of justice -- not only for the victims, but for the Commonwealth as a whole -- is inaccurate."

The report says Powers Fastener employs about 240 people and faces a maximum fine of $1,000 if convicted.

In July, Aggregate Industries Northeast Region agreed to plead guilty and pay $50 million to settle its criminal and civil liabilities as a result of allegations that it was conducting a fraudulent concrete scheme during the Big Dig.

More News