Manslaughter conviction expunged after worker dies in baling machine
In 2009, a Macy's employee fell into a cardboard baling and compactor machine he was operating at a company facility in East Los Angeles. The machine crushed and decapitated him. According to AlterNet's Russell Mokhiber, the company pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of corporate criminal liability for the death. Macy's agreed to pay a $950,000 fine and to conduct a safety audit at all its balers and compactors in California, to be approved by the L.A. District Attorney's office.
What the D.A.'s press release neglected to mention was that once the fine is paid, Macy's can move to terminate probation and have the conviction expunged. The D.A. has promised not to oppose either motion.
The prosecuting attorney had sought two felony charges for "willful violations of the California Occupational Safety and Health Act." At the preliminary hearing, the judge ruled that there was sufficient evidence to press the felony charges. That was until the plea bargain, which the prosecuting attorney said "wasn't my decision.... My supervisors made the decision," according to Mokhiber.
It turns out, Macy's was represented not by some big-name law firm as would usually happen, but by former Los Angeles County deputy district attorney Bill Seki, who is now a professor at Southwestern Law School. As Mokhiber points out, Seki is the co-director of Southwestern's Trial Advocacy Honors Program. It just so happens that the other co-director of the program is the current L.A. County Assistant District Attorney, Joseph Esposito.
That's one corporation that knows all the right people!