Bronx engineer accused of perjury

THE BRONX - The structural engineer who approved renovation plans for a Bronx store that went up in flames killing two firefighters was charged with perjury Monday.

In August 2006, a fire broke out on the first floor of a 99 cent store on Walton Avenue. The floor collapsed and trapped firefighters Howard Carpluk and Michael Reilly, who later died. The FDNY launched an investigation of the building to find out what caused the collapse.

Now, the Bronx district attorney is charging 82-year-old engineer Jose Vargas with criminal perjury charges. Vargas allegedly lied to investigators about the material he used for the renovations.

According to prosecutors, Vargas filed for a work permit in 2000 and said he planned to use steel support frames during the renovation. Prosecutors say that he did not use them.

According to fire department reports, investigators found rotted support columns, shoddy repair work and extensive alterations outside of those listed on the plan.

Vargas' attorney, Armando Montano, says his client is being used as a scapegoat by the city. He says Vargas' work had nothing to do with the floor collapse.

Mayor unveils plaque for firemen killed a year ago

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