ORANGE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY

NEWS RELEASE

TONY RACKAUCKAS, District Attorney
 
 

Susan Kang Schroeder, Chief of Staff 
Office: 714-347-8408 
Cell: 714-292-2718

ORANGE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY<h3>NEWS RELEASE</h3>TONY RACKAUCKAS, District Attorney

Michelle Van Der Linden,Spokesperson
Office: 714-347-8405
Cell: 714-323-4486


 

ORANGE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY<h3>NEWS RELEASE</h3>TONY RACKAUCKAS, District Attorney

 

Case # 17HF0480

Date: May 11, 2017

COMPANY AND THREE SUPERVISORS ARRAIGNED FOR VIOLATING SCAFFOLDING LAWS NEAR HIGH VOLTAGE POWER LINES THAT KILLED ONE EMPLOYEE AND INJURED ANOTHER AT MISSION VIEJO HIGH SCHOOL

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – A company and three of its supervisors were arraigned on May 9, 2017, for violating scaffolding laws near high voltage power lines that killed one employee and injured another at Mission Viejo High School.

Defendant

Charges

Maximum Sentence

Court Date

  • Five Star Plastering, Inc.

 

  • John Lawrence Alberts, 57, Apple Valley

 

  • Thomas Aaron Blythe, 46, Rancho Santa Margarita

 

  • Timothy Scott Gordon, 52, Lake Elsinore

Charged on April 7, 2017, with one felony count each of:

 

  • Willful violation causing death
  • Willful violation causing injury

Alberts, Blythe and Gordon:

  • Three years in state prison and up to $250,000 in fines per defendant

 

Five Star Plastering, Inc.

  • $1.5 million fine

Pre-trial hearing

 

July 25, 2017, 8:30 a.m.

 

Department H-7, Harbor Justice Center, Newport Beach

Circumstances of the Case

  • At the time of the crime, Blythe was the president and owner of Five Star Plastering, Inc. (Five Star), and the vice president of the Mission Viejo High School (MVHS) booster club. Alberts was the crew supervisor, and Gordon was the company’s safety coordinator.
  • In July 2014, 23-year-olds Daniel Pohl and John Doe were working for Five Star to erect scaffolding on a football field at MVHS that would eventually display a banner supporting the school’s football team.
  • Pohl and John Doe were untrained employees with less than three weeks of experience when they were assigned the job.
  • Blythe is accused of ordering the job be done and being on site when it was started.
  • Gordon is accused of failing to inspect the job site for safety hazards prior to or during the scaffolding process.
  • Alberts is accused of being the foreman at the MVHS site and improperly checking the clearance between the scaffolding and high-voltage power lines, which is required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to be six feet at minimum.
  • During construction on July 17, 2014, Pohl came in contact with power lines that were approximately two feet above the scaffolding and was instantly killed by high voltage electrocution.
  • John Doe came to Pohl’s aid and sustained serious and permanent injuries from the same power line.
  • Emergency responders pronounced Pohl dead at the scene and took John Doe to a local hospital.
  • The defendants were subsequently fined $164,000 by OSHA, and all are accused of willfully violating OSHA provisions for preventing accidents due to proximity to overhead lines.

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (CalOSHA) investigated this case.

Prosecutor: Deputy District Attorney Kelly Ernby, Consumer and Environmental Protection Unit

 



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