World Trade Center parachutists fined, no jail

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 10, 2015 2:40 PM

By Sebastien Malo

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Two men found guilty of jumping off the top of New York's One World Trade Center, the Western Hemisphere's tallest building, were each sentenced to a $2,000 fine and community service on Monday in a Manhattan state court.

Andrew Rossig, 34, and James Brady, 33, are two out of the three BASE jumpers who parachuted from the top of the 104-story building in the early hours of Sept. 30, 2013. A third jumper, Marko Markovich, 28, will be sentenced on Aug. 17.

The skyscraper stands on the location where more than 2,700 people were killed on Sep. 11, 2001 when hijacked planes slammed into the twin World Trace Center towers. The new building was still under construction when the jumpers pulled off their stunt early on Sept. 30, 2013

Judge Juan Merchan berated the defendants for their conduct, linking their behavior to the painful memories associated with the attack.

"These defendants tarnished the building before it even opened and sullied the memories of those who jumped on 9/11, not for sport but because they had to," Merchan said.

However, he spared Rossig and Brady jail time, rejecting a 60-day jail sentence sought by Assistant District Attorney Joseph Giovannetti, who argued it would serve as "general deterrence."

Rossig, Brady and Markovich, who reside in New York suburbs, got to the top of the building after sneaking through a hole in the skyscraper's construction fence. It opened in November 2014.

The night-time jumps were filmed with cameras attached to the jumpers' helmets, showing breathtaking views of the illuminated Financial District followed by a vertiginous, quarter-of-a-mile (400-meter) long plunge.

One of the videos, later posted on YouTube, has gone viral with more than 3.5 million views.

In June, a jury acquitted each of the three men of the gravest charge - burglary, a felony - but found them guilty of misdemeanor charges of second-degree reckless endangerment, reckless endangerment of property and unauthorized climbing, jumping and suspending oneself from a structure.

At their sentencing, Rossig and Brady appeared apprehensive, and both apologized in addresses to Merchan. They faced up to a year behind bars.

"I just want to say that we're sorry for what we did," Rossig said, later vowing never to parachute again in New York City.

"We understand that what we did could possibly have endangered other people and it's never going to happen again."

BASE jumping is an extreme sport that involves parachuting from a building, antenna or cliff.

(Reporting by Sebastien Malo; Editing by Daniel Bases and Sandra Maler)