Building official who allegedly said Miami condo building was ‘in very good shape’ has been put on leave

Building official who allegedly said Miami condo building was ‘in very good shape’ has been put on leave
In 2018, Ross Prieto allegedly told a meeting of the collapsed building’s condo association that the structure was ‘in very good shape’

The official who allegedly told the condo association of Champlain Towers South, the Miami-area condo building that collapsed last week, that the building was “in very good shape” has been put on leave, his current employer says.

Until recently, Ross Prieto was working for the contractor CAP Government in Doral, Florida. But according to the city, CAP Government now says Mr Prieto has been temporarily removed.

“On June 28, 2021, C.A.P. Government, Inc. notified the City of Doral that Mr. Prieto was on a leave of absence and assigned another employee to assist the City of Doral Building Department on a temporary basis,” Doral spokesperson Maggie Santos said in a statement.

The city has not said whether this leave of absence is related to the collapse of Champlain Towers, which has killed a confirmed 12 people and left about 150 more missing.

Before Doral, Mr Prieto was the building official for Surfside, Florida, where the towers were located. In 2018, according to documents unearthed by NPR, Mr Prieto told a meeting of the Champlain Tower South Condominium Association that the building was in good condition.

“Structural engineer report was reviewed by Mr Prieto,” the minutes of that meeting say. “It appears the building is in very good shape.”

According to NPR, this directly contradicted the actual engineering report, given by Morabito Consultants just five weeks earlier, which warned of “major structural damage” to the building and noted “abundant cracking” in concrete beams and walls.

Three years later, the building spontaneously crumbled to the ground, killing at least 12 people and leaving over 150 missing.

On Sunday, Mr Prieto said he did not remember the 2018 report.

“I don’t know anything about it,” he told the Miami Herald. “That’s 2018.”

He declined to comment further, citing his lawyer’s advice.

On Tuesday, the search for survivors at Champlain Towers stretched into its sixth day. No investigation of the collapse has yet been completed, and the cause is still unknown.

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