By Tony Hanson

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) –- Over prosecution objections, a Philadelphia judge today granted bail, albeit high bail, for the construction contractor charged in the deaths of six people after the collapse of a center city building earlier this month.

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Bail for Sean Benschop was set at  $1.55 million dollars, and the defendant would have to post 10 percent — $155,000 — to gain his release.

Philadelphia prosecutor Jennifer Selber argued that Benschop is a flight risk with previous criminal convictions, has used multiple names, and has failed to show up for court on numerous occasions.

But the defense argued that Benshop is not flight risk, that he surrendered in this case.  His attorney, Daine Grey, argued that Benschop has no convictions since 1995 and later failures to appear resulted in cases with no convictions.

As for the charges, Grey says he believes they could be dismissed at the prelminary hearing, now scheduled for September.

“All he did was follow directions, and nothing he did caused the collapse of the building that day,” Grey says, “and in time that will be shown in court.”

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It’s not clear if Benschop can make the new bail amount.

Sean Benschop had previously been held without bail on six charges of manslaughter. The judge ruled that Benschop must pay bail of $900,000 on the manslaughter charges in addition to the $650,000 in bail on the 13 counts of reckless endangerment he also faces.

Investigators say Benschop was impaired by marijuana and painkillers while operating heavy equipment on a vacant building under demolition. His lawyer says Benschop was fit to work (see related story).

A four-story brick wall collapsed onto the Salvation Army shop on June 5th, killing six and injuring 13.


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