$1.5M Bail Set for Backhoe Operator at Building Collapse

Bail of $1.5 million has been set for the man charged in the deaths of six people buried in the collapse of a Center City Philadelphia thrift shop.

Kary R. Roberts, also known as Sean Benschop, faces six counts of involuntary manslaughter and 13 counts of reckless endangerment in the June 5 incident at 22nd and Market Streets.

Prosecutors argues at today's preliminary hearing that Benschop is a flight risk. They say he was born in Guyana, is not a U.S. citizen and has used numerous aliases.

Defense attorney Daine Grey countered, saying his 42-year-old client turned himself in after police issued an arrest warrant in the case.

At the hearing, a Common Pleas judge handed down a bail of $900,000 for the manslaughter charges and $650,000 for 13 counts of reckless endangerment. He was previously held without bail. After handing down the bail, the judge continued the preliminary hearing until September 17.

Investigators with the District Attorney's office say the demolition contractor was impaired by marijuana and painkillers while operating heavy equipment next door to the doomed store.

A four-story brick wall collapsed onto the Salvation Army shop, killing six and injuring 13 others.

A grand jury is investigating whether anyone besides Benschop should be charged. His lawyer says Benschop was fit to work and calls his client a scapegoat.

Many questions still remain in the deadly collapse that has put the city's Licenses and Inspections procedures under the microscope.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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