Brooklyn, NY New American Theatre Collapse, Nov 1921


Grand Jury Returns Manslaughter Charges in First and Second Degrees.


Borough President Riegelmann Wants to Reassure Public – Inspectors Resent Being Blamed.

Two indictments each against four persons, charging them with manslaughter in the first and second degrees, were returned yesterday by the February Kings County Grand Jury as a result of evidence laid before that body by District Attorney John. E. Ruston concerning the collapse of the American Theatre, at Bedford and Park Avenues, Brooklyn, in which seven persons lost their lives.

The four men indicted are Joseph Gaydica, who furnished the steel for the structure; James M. Finlay, a Building Department inspector who had charge of the inspection of steel work; James Kavanaugh, a contractor who erected the steel for the building, and Samuel Moskowitz, one of the owners and builders of the theatre. All were arrainged in the ounty (sic) Court before Judge George W. Martin and pleaded not guilty. At the request of Mr. Ruston bail was fixed at $10,000 in each case.

No indictment was returned against Sidney Rosenthal, who was associated with Moskowitz. It is said that the evidence as reviewed by the Grand Jury led to the belief that Rosenthal was nothing more than a silent partner who had no knowledge of what was taking place. District Attorney Ruston said yesterday that the four men would probably be tried next month.

Despite repeated statements that the matter of the collapse was in the hands of the District Attorney and that he would do nothing until that official ended his labors, Borough President Edward Riegelmann of Brooklyn has written Mayor Hylan asking that the Commissioner of Accounts be designated to make a “thorough and exhaustive investigations of the Building Bureau of Brooklyn.” The letter, dated Friday and given out at Borough Hall yesterday, reads as follows”

“My dear Mr. Mayor: On the 15th day of March, 1922, Mr. Justice McAdoo criticised (sic) the Building Bureau and the methods now in vogue therein and stataed (sic) in his decision, among other things, that human life was unsafe in buildings erected under the jurisdiction of the Building Bureau. In view of this statement, it is my opinion that steps should be taken immediately to bring about its correction. In view of the foregoing, may I ask you to kindly direct the Commissioner of Accounts to immediately institute a thorough, and exhaustive investigations of the Borough of Brooklyn.”

A statement was issued yesterday by Joseph S. Byrne, “legal representative of the Building Inspectors’ Society,” urging higher pay for this class of public employes (sic) and stating, “We might as well blame the Governor of California for the San Francisco earthquake of the Mayor of the city for the Johnstown flood as to blame the Superintendent of Buildings r (sic) the inspectrs (sic) for the collapse of the American Theatre.”

The New York Times, New York, NY 19 Mar 1922