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After 10 months of investigating the Staten Island Ferry crash that killed 11 people and injured dozens, federal prosecutors Wednesday announced five indictments that included not only the ship’s pilot but the director of the ferry’s operations. The announcement, after weeks of speculation, ratcheted up the dispute between New York City and attorneys for victims of the crash, who said the city could no longer deny that it would be on the hook for significant damages in civil lawsuits. The pilot of the ferry, Richard Smith, 55, on Wednesday pleaded guilty to 11 counts of manslaughter and said he was not fit to be behind the controls of the Andrew J. Barberi when it smashed into a Staten Island maintenance pier on Oct. 15. Smith also admitted that he had lied to the U.S. Coast Guard about prescription medication he was taking. The drugs, for back pain, along with over-the-counter medication, caused him to pass out as the ferry neared the St. George terminal. After Smith’s plea, Eastern District U.S. Attorney Roslynn R. Mauskopf announced four other indictments, including an 11-count manslaughter charge against Patrick Ryan, director of ferry operations, for failing to provide workers with safety rules that required two pilots to be at the controls at all times. Prosecutors also said that he lied to the Coast Guard, the National Transportation Safety Board and police investigators by telling them the rules had been issued to ferry employees and enforced. “The Barberi crashed as a result of the criminal negligence of two individuals, Assistant Captain Richard Smith and Patrick Ryan,” Mauskopf said at a press conference. She said the “two-pilot” rule was developed in 1958 and was regularly given to employees and enforced through 1987. When Ryan took over as director in the 1990s, she said, enforcement and training lapsed and the rule was no longer followed. She said Ryan helped to draft an updated version of safety rules in 2000, when he was a port captain. That draft, made under then-director Pamela Cess, was not distributed, Mauskopf said, and Ryan failed to do anything more when he again became director in 2001. Since the crash, city officials have claimed the rule was in effect and ignored by ferry crews. Mauskopf said that Ryan’s lies had caused city officials to make erroneous statements. Mauskopf’s office also indicted John Mauldin, a port captain, for allegedly lying about the safety rules to investigators, and Michael J. Gansas, the captain of the Barberi, for making false statements to investigators. Mauskopf said that Gansas, who claimed he was inside the pilothouse at the time of the crash but was later deemed to be elsewhere on the ship, would not face manslaughter charges because no rules were in place that required him to be alongside Smith. Attorneys for Ryan and Mauldin said their clients would plead not guilty. Sanford A. Rubenstein and Anthony F. Bisignano of Staten Island’s Bosco Bisignano & Mascolo, two attorneys representing victims, held a press conference Wednesday on behalf of all the victims and asked the city to withdraw its motion to limit its liability to $14 million. Corporation Counsel Michael A. Cardozo, however, responded by putting the blame on Smith and defending Ryan. “We do not believe that Captain Patrick Ryan was guilty of manslaughter in the performance of his duties as Director of Ferry Operations, as the indictment alleges,” Cardozo said in a statement. He “has been a respected and loyal employee who brought about many improvements to the ferry over his long history of service.” While Cardozo did not defend Ryan, Mauldin and Gansas on their false-statement charges, he said, “We directed and encouraged all of our employees to tell the truth and cooperate fully.” Ryan and Mauldin were suspended Wednesday with pay by the Department of Transportation, which operates the Staten Island Ferry. In a separate statement, Cardozo said the city is studying whether it would pay the two defendants’ legal fees. Rubenstein responded angrily to Cardozo’s statement, saying it was “simply spin” and showed the city had “a reason to be concerned.” “The victims look forward to a jury deciding the issue of guilt or innocence,” Rubenstein said. “If at a criminal trial the evidence proves that there was a criminal act, then the attempt by the city to limit its damages will fail.” Ryan’s attorney, Thomas Fitzpatrick, said Ryan would plead not guilty. “I think that if you inquired around you would find out that Pat Ryan is a very respected professional,” he said. “This is an awful day for Pat Ryan.” William R. Bennett, who represents Gansas, said the outcome of the investigation — which included no manslaughter charges against Gansas — should explain why his client stuck by his Fifth Amendment rights and refused to cooperate with investigators. His actions caused him to be fired in November. “We hope the City of New York understands that there was a reason why we could not cooperate early on,” Bennett said. “We cooperated with the right body, which was the U.S. Attorney’s Office.” Bennett added: “The political atmosphere that followed the incident was just too grave to speak. That’s the beauty of the Fifth Amendment. It worked.” The city, which faces more than 100 suits and millions of dollars in damages from the accident, has settled several cases. The largest one — $1.1 million — was reached last week. Rubenstein said an agreement between the city and crash victims to stay litigation pending the outcome of the criminal proceedings would continue.

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