Company Execs Face Charges in Tree Trimming Death

"Three Frogs" of La Mesa buys, renovates and sells homes, for a profit

Three executives of a local real estate investment firm were formally charged Wednesday with work-place safety violations, alleged crimes that caused the death of a construction worker.

"Three Frogs" of La Mesa buys, renovates and sells homes, for a profit. A process called "flipping."

Experts told us, there's always a temptation to cut corners, and work without insurance and proper training, to increase profits.

That's what prosecutors say "Three Frogs" executives did, when they had Joshua Pudsey use an aerial lift to trim that 60 foot eucalyptus tree in November.

A large branch from the tree fell on Pudsey, crushing his head.
Inspectors say the company should have used a qualified tree trimmer, who had the right equipment and training.

On Wednesday, President David Scot Wolf, 48, Chief Operating Officer John Murphy, 36, and Chief Financial Officer Jonathan D. Cox, 34 appeared in San Diego court and entered not guilty pleas to the safety violations and violating worker's insurance laws.

Pudsey’s mother, Debbi Anderson, said the company should have hired someone who was trained for the job.

"That they cut corners and they saved a couple of pennies, because ultimately, I can tell you, that it's costing them a hell of a lot more now than it would have had they hired a professional to trim that tree initially,” Anderson told NBC 7.

Wolf has expressed his condolences to the victim's family for their loss.

If convicted of all charges, he faces a maximum sentence of 6 years, 6 months.

Murphy and Cox face a maximum sentence of 4 years, 8 months if convicted of all charges, prosecutors said.

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