Macy's to pay nearly $1M over employee death in East LA

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Macy's Corporate Services Inc. has pleaded no contest to corporate criminal liability and agreed to pay $950,000 over the death of an employee who fell into a compactor machine at one of its distribution centers, the Los Angeles district attorney's office said Tuesday.

The case stems from the 2009 death of Roy Polanco, 65, who was operating a cardboard baling and compactor machine at a Macy's distribution center in East L.A. when he fell into an unguarded opening of the unit, said Ricardo Santiago, a spokesman for the DA's office.

The machines are used to compact waste for recycling, but this one had been modified to allow it to run without interruption, Santiago said. When Polanco fell in, he was crushed and decapitated.

"The prosecutor explains that the machine has certain mechanisms so when it's filled up to a certain capacity, it would stop operating, and that mechanism had been disabled," Santiago said.

Macy's will pay the fine at a sentencing hearing on Friday as part of a negotiated settlement. The company must also audit all of its balers and compactors and the audit must be approved by the DA's office.

In April, the DA's office announced that it was putting together a special team to help investigate similar accidents where violations of workplace and environmental safety laws are suspected.

KPCC has reached out to Macy's for comment and will update this story when we have more.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the age of Roy Polanco based on a statement from the district attorney's office, which sent out a subsequent correction. KPCC regrets the error.

This story has been updated.

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