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December 09, 2015

Montco man pleads guilty to charges relating to falling death of roofer

James J. McCullagh admits to willfully violating OSHA regulations, other charges

Crime Sentencing
Old Zion Lutheran Church Google/Street View

Mark Smith, a roofer for James J. McCullagh Roofing, fell to his death while working on Old Zion Lutheran Church in 2013.

The owner of a Montgomery County roofing company pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges related to the fatal fall of an employee.

James J. McCullagh, 60, of Meadowbrook, pleaded guilty to willfully violating an Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulation causing death to an employee, obstruction of justice and four counts of making false statements.

McCullagh, the owner of James J. McCullagh Roofing, failed to provide fall protection equipment to his employees. Employee Mark Smith, of Philadelphia, died after falling about 45 feet from a roof bracket scaffold on June 21, 2013, while working at the Old Zion Lutheran Church on North Broad Street.

McCullagh attempted to cover up his failure to OSHA investigators, falsely stating on four occasions that he had provided fall protection equipment, including safety harnesses, to his employees. He told an OSHA official that his employees had been wearing safety harnesses tied to an anchor point when he saw them in the day prior to the fall. He instructed other employees to falsely say they had safety harnesses on the day of the fall.

McCullagh is scheduled to be sentenced March 29 before U.S. District Court Judge Nitza I. Quinones Alejandro. He faces a maximum prison sentence of 25 years, a possible fine, supervised release and a $510 special assessment.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Inspector General and OSHA investigated the case.