A Laguna Hills plastering company and two of its supervisors pleaded no contest Tuesday to a pair of misdemeanors stemming from the death of a 23-year-old worker who was electrocuted while erecting scaffolding at a Mission Viejo High School athletic field.
Thomas Aaron Blythe, 46, of Rancho Santa Margarita, and Timothy Scott Gordon, 52, of Lake Elsinore, each pleaded no contest to misdemeanor counts of willful violation causing death and willful violation causing injury. They both worked for Five Star Plastering, which also entered pleas to the same counts.
According to the District Attorney’s Office, Blythe was the president and owner of the company and Gordon was the safety coordinator in July 2014, when employee Daniel Pohl was electrocuted.
Prosecutors said Pohl and another worker, also 23 years old, were erecting scaffolding that was going to be used for a banner supporting the Mission Viejo High School football team. Prosecutors contend that Pohl and the other worker were not properly trained and had limited experience when they were assigned the job.
Blythe — who was the vice president of the high school’s booster club — was at the school when the work began and Gordon failed to inspect the site for safety.
Instead, Pohl wound up coming in contact with a high-voltage power line, which was about two feet above the scaffolding — well below the six feet of clearance required by the state, prosecutors said. The other worker came to Pohl’s aid and also wound up touching the line, suffering burn injuries and falling about 25 feet to the ground.
According to prosecutors, the second worker suffered “serious and permanent injuries.”
As a result of their pleas, Blythe and Gordon were both ordered to perform community service and attend a workplace safety training program. Blythe and the company were ordered to pay $400,000 in restitution to the victims, along with the previously ordered $164,270 fine to Cal/OSHA.
Another company official, John Lawrence Alberts, 57, of Apple Valley, pleaded no contest to the same misdemeanors in September of last year and was also sentenced to community service and the workplace safety program. He was the crew supervisor at the time of Pohl’s death.
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