The manager of the mine admitted to recklessly operating a crane, resulting in the death of a mine mechanic, and pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter.

In October 2022, a 35-year-old mechanic named Darren Miller was fatally crushed at the R J Valente Grafton Quarry in upstate New York. Following this tragic incident, an investigation was launched by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). The investigation revealed that Anthony Valente, a mine manager at the quarry, had caused Miller’s death by recklessly disregarding safety features of a crane he was operating. Valente pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the second degree, a Class C felony, and agreed to serve a six-month jail sentence and five years of probation. He is expected to report to jail on June 14, 2024.

The investigation also found that the crane involved in the incident had been tagged as “out of service” during prior inspections, but Valente had still used it without repairing it. MSHA cited the mining company R J Valente Gravel for failing to remove the damaged crane from service and for not ensuring Miller stayed clear of suspended loads while working. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Solicitor, Seema Nanda, emphasized that this incident was preventable and that the department will use its enforcement powers to hold employers accountable for unsafe work practices.

At the court proceeding, Rensselaer County Chief Assistant District Attorney Matthew B. Hauf appeared on behalf of the People of New York. Rensselaer County District Attorney Mary Pat Donnelly expressed her satisfaction with the partnership between the Rensselaer County District Attorney’s Office, MSHA, and the New York State Police in holding Valente criminally responsible for Miller’s death. She also reminded those in the mining industry that they have a legal obligation to maintain safe conditions for all workers.  

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