NYPD: Former World Trade Center worker among BASE jumpers

Warning: Video contains profane language. This footage from Sept. 30 shows a B.A.S.E. jump from the Freedom Tower at 3 a.m. (Credit: YouTube)

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Three Long Island men and a fourth from upstate have been arrested and charged with burglary and other crimes in the case of the "thrill-seekers" who jumped off the top of the 105-story 1 World Trade Center with parachutes in September, the NYPD said Monday night.

Police said one of the Long Island men charged, James Brady, 32, of Kings Park, was a construction worker assigned to the 1 World Trade Center site.

The three Long Islanders, Marko Markovich, 27, of Lake Ronkonkoma, Kyle Hartwell, 29, of East Patchogue, and Brady, as well as Andrew Rossig, 33, of upstate Slate Hill, each were charged with third-degree burglary, a class-D felony; second-degree reckless endangerment, a class-A misdemeanor; and jumping from a structure, also a class-A misdemeanor, in what was described as BASE jumping.

BASE is an acronym for "building, antenna, span, earth."

They are accused of unlawfully entering the premises of 1 World Trade Center, jumping off the iconic building and parachuting to the ground at 3 a.m. Sept. 30. Hartwell is believed to have been a lookout during the jump, police said.

"These men violated the law and placed themselves, as well as others, in danger," NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said. "These arrests should send a message to anyone thinking about misusing a landmark this way. They will be tracked down and they will face serious charges. Being a thrill-seeker does not give immunity from the law."

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The Associated Press reported that attorneys for the men said they are experienced BASE jumpers. Such jumpers often choose unusual locations -- skyscrapers or treacherous cliffs -- for their parachute plunges. The results can be deadly. Two BASE jumpers were killed over the weekend in Utah, authorities there told the AP.

A video of the jump off 1 World Trade Center was posted on YouTube. Like a scene from a Batman movie, the video shows two of the jumpers leaping from the top of the tower and descending to the pre-dawn streets of lower Manhattan before landing and disappearing into the dark.

"The Port Authority joins the NYPD in condemning this lawless and selfish act that clearly endangered the public," Joseph Dunne, chief security officer for the Port Authority, said in a statement released by the NYPD early Tuesday.

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"One of the jumpers worked construction at the WTC and violated the spirit of respect and reverence for this sacred site that almost all connected with the WTC project feel," Dunne added, while not directly naming Brady -- who was previously identified by the NYPD as the worker in question. "It should be clear that the PAPD and NYPD will go to any length to bring those who defile the WTC site to justice."

Attorney Andrew Mancilla, who represents Brady, declined to comment Monday, saying he needed to speak with his client. Joseph Murray, Hartwell's attorney, said his client had not been arraigned.

"My guy is not alleged to be one of the jumpers," he said while waiting for the start of the arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court. "I guess he's being charged as acting in concert with the top count being burglary."

The four were arraigned Monday night and released on $3,500 bail, said Joseph Corozzo of Manhattan, Markovich's attorney, adding they want to find "a way to use the video to donate money to charity."

Corozzo said the charity would be one working on behalf of 9/11 victims, "to show they meant no disrespect."

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Rossig's attorney could not be reached Monday night.

The arrests come after a 5½-month investigation by the NYPD and the Port Authority Police Department, police said. The charges followed another security breach at the skyscraper. On March 16, Justin Casquejo, 16, of New Jersey, was arrested after authorities said he climbed to the top of the tower. Casquejo faces a trespassing charge.

With John Valenti

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