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Contractor Receives Murder Charges Following Philadelphia Building Collapse

In June of this year, what should have been a standard building demolition went horribly awry, killing six victims and injuring 14. Now, some six months later, summer has turned to winter, and multiple murder charges have been brought against contractor Griffin Campbell, as well as mechanical operator Sean Benschop. Bereft family members of the victims have filed lawsuits against developers as the pain of that tragic day continues to plague survivors.

Construction Machinery - Contractor Receives Murder Charges Following Philadelphia Building Collapse

Six Killed in Unsafe Demolition

The Salvation Army is best known for its offbeat wares, deals on clothing, and the ever-present, bell-ringing Santas which herald the arrival of the holiday season on street corners across America. But in on June 6th, a popular Salvation Army store located near the bustling corner of 22nd and Market Streets in Center City, Philadelphia became representative of something much darker than second-hand sweaters.

The Salvation Army itself was not involved in any plans for construction. Rather, its neighboring building, owned by Richard Basciano (who holds the dubious title of once being Times Square’s “Pornography King”), was in the process of being demolished — when everything went terribly wrong.

Innocent shoppers perusing the aisles of the downtown Salvation Army were trapped inside when a 40-foot-tall brick wall from the demolition site next door collapsed on the roof of the high-traffic thrift store. Tragically, despite the best efforts of rescue workers and firefighters, who continued clearing rubble throughout the day and into the next, six people were killed. 13 more were injured.

And now, charges have been filed.

Philadelphia Map - Contractor Receives Murder Charges Following Philadelphia Building Collapse

Six Counts of Murder, Assorted Charges

Two men have borne the brunt of the terrible incident’s legal consequences: Sean Benschop, and Griffin Campbell.

Benschop was the operator of an excavator — which, on average, weigh in at at least 50,000 pounds. After it was discovered that he was operating the potentially dangerous and massively heavy machine under the influence of marijuana and painkillers, he was charged with six counts of involuntary manslaughter.

But Benschop isn’t the man at the heart of the case. That would be Griffin Campbell, contractor, whom Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams describes as being “at the center of culpability for the collapse.”

The night before the collapse, the project’s architect, Plato Marinakos, advised Campbell that the remains of the partially gutted building were structurally unsound, and that providing wall bracing was recommended. The wall which Marinakos warned of — weakened by a lack of scaffolding, and by Campbell’s removal of crucial joists to resell as scrap — was the same wall which killed six Philadelphians and hurt over a dozen others the very next morning.

Now, Campbell has been hit with a laundry list of criminal charges: 6 counts of 3rd Degree murder; 6 counts of involuntary manslaughter, like Benschop; 13 counts of reckless endangerment; risking a catastrophe; and criminal conspiracy charges. Prosecutors say Campbell, who chose the demolition method for the site, cut corners and slashed safety measures in an effort to reduce costs.

Family members of the deceased aren’t satisfied. Some have filed lawsuits against Basciano, as well as Campbell and Benschop; and while additional attorneys hope to file claims against Philadelphia itself, the prognosis for such suits has traditionally been dim.

Murder is one of the most serious charges there is.  If you or a loved one is facing murder charges, it is critical that you contact our criminal defense lawyers immediately for help.  You can also reach us by phone at (609) 755-3115 in New Jersey or (215) 701-6519 in Pennsylvania.




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Learn what to do if you have been stopped for DUI/DWI.

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If this is your first DUI offense, you may be eligible for ARD.



Commonwealth v. "H" (DUI case)

Client was charged with three separate DUI cases calling for mandatory minimum imprisonment of 90 days on each case. Client was advised to seek immediate intensive alcohol counseling. Client was sentenced to 1 year of house arrest after serving 3 days in the county prison.


Commonwealth v. "C" (Felony drug/Firearms case)

Client was charged with felony Delivery of drugs and illegal gun possession and was facing a mandatory 3-6 year prison sentence in the State prison system. Client was sentenced to one year of house arrest.


Commonwealth v. "S"

Client was charged with simple assault, domestic. After a hearing where evidence and testimony was presented, the entire case was dismissed by Judge Leonard Brown.


State of New Jersey v. "H"

Charges for young man charged with second degree aggravated assault were downgraded to third degree and he was accepted into the County Pretrial Intervention program with charges to be dismissed and record expunged after one year of misconduct free behavior.


We have decades of experience dealing with local police departments, prosecutors, and judges throughout southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Anyone facing charges involving a criminal offense can expect to experience a heightened degree of emotional turmoil, for themselves, as well as their family members. Our team of highly qualified criminal law attorneys and expert legal support staff are committed to providing each of our client’s with the compassion and understanding they deserve, as well as an aggressive plan for representation at an affordable price.

As former prosecutors, we have a balanced and in-depth understanding of the criminal justice system and how the prosecution prepares cases. In addition, we have long-standing experience dealing with local police departments, prosecutors and judges throughout southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

At Young, Marr and Associates, when we say “experience matters,” we mean it. Our lawyers, which include two former prosecutors and a former senior deputy district attorney bring more than three decades of criminal law experience, handling more than 10,000 criminal cases. It is precisely that experience that allows us to achieve outstanding results for our clients facing DUI, traffic, felony and misdemeanor charges in state, federal and juvenile courts.