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Elevators Causing Two-Hour ‘Sentence’ Will Be Replaced

December 7, 1986

BOSTON (AP) _ Malfunctioning elevators at a federal building so angered a judge that he sentenced a man pleading guilty to tax evasion to the time he spent trapped in one.

U.S. District Judge Walter Jay Skinner criticized the elevators in the 20- story building in Post Office Square after a defendant going to his court was trapped for two hours between floors.

The angry judge sentenced Joseph J. Silvano Jr. of Newton on Thursday only to ″time served in the elevator″ instead of the 10 years in prison and $110,000 in fines he could have received for failing to pay $53,343 in 1981 and 1982 income taxes.

Skinner said passengers, including judges and jurors, were being trapped increasingly frequently in elevators in the 53-year-old building. ″The public is at peril,″ he said.

However, Barbara M. Leonard, regional administrator of the General Services Administration, insisted Friday that the problem was not as bad as the judge said it was.

″Like any large building, things go wrong one in a while, but in general there have been no excessive problems,″ she said.

Leonard said the elevators would be replaced during renovations scheduled to begin in three to four years to convert the building entirely to court use. But Levin H. Campbell, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals, said he would ask General Services to install the new elevators before then.

Until the lifts are replaced, a federal elevator expert from New York will inspect the machinery and repairs will be made if necessary, Leonard said.

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