2,977 were killed by the 9/11 attacks. But terrorists were only charged with 2,976 deaths
- Last Updated: 6:47 AM, May 13, 2012
- Posted: 11:10 PM, May 12, 2012
As the case against terror mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed makes its way through a military tribunal, everyone who died at the hands of 19 fanatics will posthumously have their day in court — except one man.
There will be no justice for Brooklyn-born Jerry Joseph Borg.
Borg, 63, died on Dec. 15, 2010, of complications from lung disease brought on by the toxic cloud that rose from the destruction of the World Trade Center.
The city Medical Examiner’s Office ruled on June 17, 2011, that his slow death was indeed caused by the attacks — making him the 2,977th official victim of 9/11.
Go to panel S-66 at the 9/11 Memorial and you’ll see Borg’s name carefully etched in the black marble alongside the south pool.
Yet the complaint against Mohammed and four other alleged terror fiends lists the names of 2,976 victims, one shy of the official tally.
It’s a stinging omission for Borg’s family, shocked to hear that their brother has been left out of what the Pentagon has called the “Nuremberg of our times.”
“He’s just as entitled to be recognized as the other victims,” his sister Shirley Lombardo, 74, told The Post. “We want him to get justice.”
“I wonder why — but I don’t know why,” said brother Charles Borg, 69.
“If everyone else’s name is there, his should be there. That’s just common sense.”
Despite repeated Post queries, the Pentagon offered no explanation for the oversight.
The original complaint against Mohammed was ditched in 2008, after President Obama took office and shut down military tribunals. That complaint listed 2,973 victims, a number the Department of Defense told The Post was incorrect because two names appeared twice.
A new complaint was sworn on May 31, 2011, and included five additional names, including Leon Heyward, 45, who died in 2008 and whose death from exposure to Ground Zero dust was ruled a 9/11 homicide in 2009; and Dr. Sneha Anne Philip, 31, whose body was never found but whose death was ruled a 9/11 murder on July 10, 2008.
Once charges are sworn, the complaint and evidence are forwarded to a Convening Authority — similar to a grand jury — which reviews the evidence to determine if there are reasonable grounds to proceed with a case.
This review period, which stretched from May 2011 to April 2012, would have been the time for prosecutors to add Borg’s name to the complaint.
In fact, they did tack on additional charges, adding 13 unnamed victims who suffered “serious bodily injuries,” in an amendment filed on Jan. 25, 2012, long after Borg’s death certificate had become available.
The charges were referred to the military commission on April 4, 2012. Now it’s much more difficult to add a charge — an additional victim would either have to be submitted without defense objection, or prosecutors would have to start from scratch.
But advocates said prosecutors should do whatever it takes to include every victim.
“Even if not easy, this should be done. The pain that the families suffered doesn’t go away,” said attorney Norman Siegel, who has represented the families of about two dozen 9/11 victims. “There has to be closure, and even if that’s not possible, that’s what government officials should strive for. For a family whose loved one is not on list, it seems like the right thing to do is to include their name.”
Borg grew up in Williamsburg, moved to Manhattan as an adult, and worked as an accountant for New York state about two blocks from the Twin Towers. His office was evacuated that terrible morning and he walked home, breathing in the deadly dust that eventually killed him.
The lifelong bachelor loved arguing politics and discovered a yen for acting later in life, appearing as a walk-on in films such as “Cotton Comes to Harlem” and “Rollover,” and the miniseries “Evergreen.”
Borg endured pulmonary sarcoidosis — an inflammation of the lungs — with quiet dignity. “We knew he had trouble breathing, but he never let us know how bad it was,” Charles recalled.
For many years, Borg would travel down to Florida for Thanksgiving dinner with his siblings.
“When I didn’t hear from him before Thanksgiving, I called him, and he sounded very weak, like he had the flu. He said he couldn’t come down, but he’d keep in touch,” his brother said.
For weeks, no one heard from him.
His sister grew increasingly worried, and called cops to check on him at his Midtown apartment.
They found him on his bathroom floor, dead for more than a week, Charles said.
“There was no reason for him to die young,” his sister said. “He was a victim.”