FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Case # 17HF0480   

Date: May 29, 2018

COMPANY AND THREE SUPERVISORS CONVICTED AND SENTENCED 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 two of its supervisors pleaded nolo contendere today for violating scaffolding laws near high voltage power lines that killed one employee and injured another at Mission Viejo High School.

Defendant

Charges

Sentence

  • Five Star Plastering, Inc.

 

  • Thomas Aaron Blythe, 46, Rancho Santa Margarita

 

  • Timothy Scott Gordon, 52, Lake Elsinore

 

 

 

                                                

Pleaded nolo contendere today, May 29, 2018, to one misdemeanor count each of:

 

  • Willful violation causing death
  • Willful violation causing injury

Five Star Plastering, Inc. and Blythe

  • $564,270 fine ($164,270 paid to CalOSHA and $400,000 paid in victim restitution)
  • Community service
  • Workplace safety training program

Gordon:

  • Community service
  • Workplace safety training program

John Lawrence Alberts, 57, Apple Valley

 

Pleaded nolo contendere on Sept. 8, 2017, to one misdemeanor count each of:

  • Willful violation causing death
  • Willful violation causing injury

 

  • Community service
  • Workplace safety training program

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 ordered the job be done and was on site when it was started.
  • Gordon failed to inspect the job site for safety hazards prior to or during the scaffolding process.
  • Alberts was the foreman at the MVHS site and improperly checked the clearance between the scaffolding and high-voltage power lines, which is required by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (CalOSHA) 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.
  • Five Star Plastering, Inc. was subsequently fined $164,000 by CalOSHA, for willfully violating CalOSHA provisions designed to prevent 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

 

 



###