‘Bogus’ construction safety firm faked safety certifications for thousands of workers, says Manhattan DA

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New York Construction Report staff writer

A New York-based construction safety firm and 25 individuals were indicted Feb. 28 for allegedly operating a fake safety training school, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office said in a statement.

Valor Security allegedly issued safety certificated and cards to about 20,000 workers, including Ivan Frias, a worker who fell to his death from the 15th floor of a New York City construction site in 2022.

Between December 2019 and April 2023, Valor issued safety certificates and cards to approximately 20,000 students. As alleged, the defendants issued cards for a fee certifying the required 40 hours of safety training for individuals working at construction sites without providing training.

According to court documents and statements made on the record in court and unsealed this week, Valor purported to have trained approximately 20,000 students between December 2019 and April 2023, making it the third-largest producer of safety certifications in New York City.

Valor claimed to provide “safety training, safety inspections, safety plans and security services” to “assure our clients remain in full compliance with all regulatory agencies.” Instead, Valor, its executives, and its employees engaged in a three-and-a-half-year scheme to issue thousands of safety certificates and cards without actually providing any training.

Also, 19 individuals, including a NYCHA foreman and two master plumbers, are charged with acting as brokers by connecting individuals seeking safety certification to VALOR.

Four individuals and VALOR are charged with recklessly endangering the life of Ivan Frias, who died after falling from the 15th floor of a West End Avenue construction site in 2022, by failing to provide him necessary training.

On November 28, 2022, Frias, a 36-year-old construction worker who emigrated from Mexico, died when he fell from the 15th floor of a construction site at 263 West End Avenue.

As alleged, although VALOR filed paperwork certifying that Frias had completed 10 hours of safety training, including eight hours of fall protection, VALOR never provided any training to Mr. Frias.

Company president Alexander Shaporov and five employees are charged in a New York State Supreme Court indictment with Enterprise Corruption, including 261 pattern acts related to their yearslong scheme. 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.

Shaporov and two others  are charged with one count of reckless endangerment for their role in his death, which the DA says “may have been prevented had Mr. Frias received the safety training and learned about the requisite fall protection guidelines,” the DA said in his statement. Also, Luz Barbra, the broker who allegedly provided the fake training certificate for Mr. Frias, is charged with reckless endangerment in the second degree.

The investigation was conducted jointly with DOI, with assistance from DOB and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

“In the construction industry, fraud can mean life or death – not only for the individuals working on the site, but for the general public that moves around them every single day.
District Attorney Bragg said. “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.

“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.”

“While Valor purported to provide construction safety training, the school and its employees acted as a criminal enterprise, selling fraudulent certifications without providing training,” DOI Commissioner Strauber said in the statement. “Together, the charged defendants allegedly facilitated the evasion of New York City’s site safety training requirements, intended to protect construction workers and all New Yorkers in proximity to construction sites.

“To that end, DOI has issued, and DOB has accepted, a series of recommendations intended to strengthen DOB’s oversight of safety training providers, course instructors, and the entire safety training process.

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