World Trade Center Skydivers 'Sullied' 9/11 Memories

World Trade Center Skydivers Sullied 9/11 Memories

Two base jumpers who skydived off the World Trade Center \"sullied the memories\" of victims of the 9/11 attacks, a New York judge said Monday, slapping them with hefty sentences of community service.


Two base jumpers who skydived off the World Trade Center "sullied the memories" of victims of the 9/11 attacks, a New York judge said Monday, slapping them with hefty sentences of community service.

James Brady, 33, who was a steel worker at the site, and "ring leader" Andrew Rossig, 34, avoided jail sentences but were ordered to carry out 250 and 200 hours of community service respectively, and each was fined $2,000.

Their stunt in the early hours of September 30, 2013 has been watched by more than 3.5 million people on YouTube. T-shirts glorifying the jump are still sold on the Internet, the court heard.

The new Trade Center, also known as Freedom Tower, is the tallest building in the United States and is constructed on part of the site destroyed in the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.

"After 9/11 the world changed, everything changed," said New York state Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan.

Brady and Rossig made a "very, very poor decision" to execute a base jump off "an iconic building constructed on hallowed ground," he said.

"In doing so 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."

Dozens of people jumped out of the Twin Towers to escape the horrors of being burned to death after Al-Qaeda hijackers flew passenger liners into the Twin Towers.

Brady and Rossig walked onto the site -- under construction in 2013 -- at 3:00 am, climbing 104 flights to where Brady had hidden their gear and parachuted below.

Merchan said the feat was not heroic but "selfish and reckless, and they're fortunate their stunt did not result in tragedy."

'Won't happen again'

Brady and Rossig were found guilty by a jury in June of misdemeanors that included reckless endangerment and unauthorized jumping.

A third defendant, Marko Markovich, 28, is to be sentenced next week.

The defendants expressed regret.

"We didn't want this whole thing to get blown out of proportion," said Rossig. "It's never going to happen again."

"We're sorry and it won't happen again," said Brady.

The judge said their apologies were "hard to reconcile" with videos posted on YouTube and a follow-up interview in Maxim magazine, which the prosecution brandished in court.

"Frankly there have been times when it has come across that the defendants believed this was some sort of joke," said Merchan.

'Selfish act'

Assistant District Attorney Joseph Giovannetti had sought 60 days in jail, three years of probation, $2,000 in fines and 200 hours of community service.

The defendants put the lives, physical safety and property of New Yorkers at risk with their "totally gratuitous and selfish act," he said.

"They knew what they were doing was wrong every step of the way," he said, yet they did everything to "celebrate their perceived accomplishment."

Giovannetti said Brady was "the inside man" who betrayed his contract to break into the construction site and who fed detectives false information in an attempt to mislead the investigation.

Rossig was "the ring leader and the instigator," who befriended Brady in order to gain access to Freedom Tower, the prosecutor said.

Rossig's lawyer Timothy Parlatore said no one in the history of New York had ever gone to jail for base jumping.

Police were tipped off when the manager of a local bagel store watched one of the men, dressed in black, come down and rush off. The defendants were arrested six months later.

The judge defended what was initially a counter-terrorism investigation "given the history of what happened at the Trade Center and given the history of what's going on around the world."

"We can't have people jumping off One World Trade Center downtown," he added.

Rossig, described as a skilled carpenter, will serve his punishment with a charity that builds and renovates homes for disabled veterans.
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