Brooklyn Owner Pleads Guilty to Negligent Homicide in 2010 Fire
Recently, an owner with illegally partitioned apartments pled guilty to negligent homicide for a 2010 fire that killed five residents. Prosecutors had filed charges against both the man accused of setting the fire and the owner. In February 2015, the owner is scheduled to be sentenced to one to three years in prison.
The second and third floors of the apartment building were permitted as one-family apartments. But after the fire, inspectors found that illegal partitions and locked doors had been used to create six separate apartments, with nine tenants on the second floor and 10 on the third floor.
Prosecutors said firefighters would have been able to put out the fire in under an hour if the building had been up to code. It took three times as long, and firefighters had to tear down illegal walls to reach the bodies.
When the owner was charged with manslaughter in 2012, his lawyer noted that a building inspector had found no violations the year before the fire. But a tenant told the grand jury that the day before the 2009 inspection, the owner warned tenants that inspectors were coming and directed them to unlock and open the doors to each room.