NEW YORK — Three men who used parachutes to jump from the top of One World Trade Center in 2013 were convicted Monday of reckless endangerment and two other misdemeanor charges, but cleared of the most serious felony burglary charge.
The jury in state Supreme Court in Manhattan reached the verdicts against 33-year-old James Brady, 34-year-old Andrew Rossig, and 28-year-old Marko Markovich after a few days of deliberations.
The three men jumped from the nation's tallest building, which was still under construction, in the early morning hours of Sept. 30, 2013. They were arrested six months later. The jumps caused embarrassment to authorities over security at the site, as did the case of a teen who also gained unauthorized access just days before the three men were arrested.
Defense attorneys had focused on fighting the felony burglary charge, arguing that the jumpers' activities didn't fit the legal definition of an offense that involves being in a building illegally with the intention of committing another crime.
"We always felt that the felony did not apply, and the jury agreed," said Markovich's lawyer, Joseph Corozzo.
Andrew Mancilla, lawyer for Brady, called the verdict "a huge relief" but added, "it's just a shame so much of the taxpayers' money had to be wasted."
Rossig was relieved to avoid a felony record, said his lawyer, Tim Parlatore.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. lauded the jury, saying their jump was "reckless and illegal." He said the men "took pride in their perceived accomplishment, and seemed to relish evasion of authorities."
Defense lawyers tried to persuade the jury the jump wasn't reckless, saying the three planned the plunge carefully to avoid imperiling anyone. No one was injured.
Markovich is now concentrating on his work as a skydiving instructor, and he's given up unpermitted jumps like the one from the trade center tower, his lawyer said.
"This has taken such desires out of his system," he said.
Brady and Rossig are scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 10 and Markovich on Aug. 17. The most serious misdemeanor charge against them carries a penalty of up to a year in jail.