Queens Owner Charged with Reckless Endangerment
A Queens owner was recently charged with reckless endangerment and other crimes for packing nearly 50 people in illegally converted apartments, some in garages and cellars. According to the Queens district attorney, he turned four houses in Jackson Heights and Elmhurst into fire hazards, with subdivided apartments, illegally installed utilities, and rooms without required exits. If convicted on all charges, he would face a prison sentence of up to seven years.
The arrest reflects an increased enforcement of laws banning illegal conversions. Attention was drawn to this problem after a string of tragedies involving illegal conversions. Last summer, two Brooklyn landlords were charged with manslaughter and other crimes after five people died in a fire in their Bensonhurst apartment building in 2010. In 2009, a fire in Woodside, Queens, killed three men trapped in an illegal basement apartment. And in 2005, two firefighters jumped to their deaths after being trapped in an illegally partitioned apartment in the Bronx.
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