NYC Company That Faked Worker Safety Training Makes National List of Most Dangerous Employers

NYC Company That Faked Worker Safety Training Makes National List of Most Dangerous Employers

By Amir Khafagy

Although Ivan Frias, 36, was certified in fall protection by Valor Security & Investigations, on Nov. 28, 2022, he fell 15 floors to his death while working on a non-union construction site in the Upper West Side.

His death became another grim statistic as it was the third death of a worker in New York City that month. The year 2022 was particularly deadly for construction workers in the city, with 24 construction workers losing their lives on the job, up from 17 just the year before. Most were immigrants like Frias who had immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico.

But Frias’ death forced rare retribution for New York’s construction industry.

On Feb. 28, Manhattan’s District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg Jr. and the New York City Department of Investigation announced the indictment of six of Valor’s executives and employees for operating a sham safety training school that targeted immigrant workers, including Frias.

Valor had filed paperwork earlier certifying that Frias had completed a 10-hour safety training course, including an 8-hour fall protection course that could have saved Frias’ life. In truth, Frias was never trained by Valor and his death triggered the investigation that would ultimately lead to Valor’s downfall.

But on Friday, as Workers’ Memorial Week drew to a close, the National Conference on Worker Safety and Health released its annual “Dirty Dozen” report highlighting the most dangerous employers and companies that put workers’ lives at risk.

This year, among the national companies singled out for their poor worker safety records such as Uber and the Waffle House, was New York-based Valor Security & Investigations.

“Companies like Valor who take advantage of workers and fraudulently offer fake Site Safety Training cards are some of the dirtiest low-road actors in our communities,” said Charlene Obernauer, executive director of the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH). “Workers die as a result of these fake cards, and Valor must be held accountable.”

Jessica E. Martinez, co-executive director of National COSH, says that Valor earned its place in this year’s “Dirty Dozen” report for its egregious harm to workers.

“Selling fake safety certificates to workers who never receive real training is one of the most cynical, horrible abuses we’ve ever encountered,” she said. “I don’t know how these people live with themselves, taking money from vulnerable workers and then leaving them with no defense, no training, no support in the face of dangerous hazards that can maim or kill.”

Court documents allege that Valor claimed to have trained approximately 20,000 students between December 2019 and April 2023. That would have made them the third-largest producer of safety certifications in the city.

Despite Valor’s claims that they provided “safety training, safety inspections, safety plans, and security services” that promised to comply with governmental regulatory agencies, the city contends they instead conducted an elaborate scheme that issued thousands of safety certificates and cards to workers without ever training them.

The company conspired with brokers, such as licensed plumbers and an NYCHA employee, to obtain 40-hour OSHA safety cards, supervisor cards, and specialized training cards. Valor would charge a worker between $300 to $600 for a basic safety training card.

Financial statements obtained by the Manhattan DA show that Valor’s then president, Alexander Shaporov, raked in nearly $1 million from the scheme. Many of the payments were deposited via Zelle into his personal bank account, for which Shaporov was able to acquire, among other things, several homes, luxury cars, jewelry, and a yacht, according to the DA.

Six of Valor’s executives and employees, including Shaporov, were charged with Enterprise Corruption and 261 individual acts related to their years-long scheme. In charging Valor with Enterprise Corruption, the DA accused the company of being engaged in an enterprise that they knew was criminal.

They were also charged with multiple counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree and offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree in regards to their issuing of fake certificates and cards. The Manhattan DA is also holding the company personally liable for Frias’ death.

Bragg has charged Shaporov and four other Valor employees each with one count of reckless endangerment in the second degree for their role in Frias’ death.

“We also allege that the death of one recipient, Ivan Frias, may have been prevented if not for the defendants’ reckless failure to train him,” said DA Bragg in a statement. “With our partners at DOI and DOB, we are determined to root out fraud, especially when it puts New Yorkers at risk. We will not let harm come to workers because companies want to turn a quick profit.”

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