Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Judge overturns convictions in deaths of firefighters

From the NY Times:

A Bronx judge on Tuesday overturned the convictions of the owner and former owner of a building where two firefighters leapt to their deaths from a fourth-floor window to escape advancing flames.

A jury convicted the defendants of criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment a year ago; prosecutors had argued that they knew about the illegal partitions that had turned the apartment building into a dangerous maze that helped disorient the firefighters as the flames quickly spread.

But Justice Margaret L. Clancy of State Supreme Court took the unusual step on Tuesday of overturning the verdict because, she said, prosecutors had failed to prove that the defendants — the company that owned the building, and Cesar Rios, its former owner — knew about the partitions.

“An individual or entity cannot be convicted of a crime without evidence of actual knowledge,” Justice Clancy said.

A spokesman for the Bronx district attorney’s office said prosecutors were deciding whether to appeal the decision.

Salvatore J. Cassano, the fire commissioner, said in a statement: “Today’s decision hopefully does not send the wrong message to those who seek to profit by creating illegal occupancies. The fact is, people continue to die in fires because of illegally constructed partitions that block egress.”


Anonymous said...

T otal bullshit........i hope the families get relief in civil court.

Anonymous said...

Maspeth Mom says...

I am a landlord, as a landlord you cannot be aware of everything a tenant does inside the apartment. Its terrible that these men died , but you can't put people in jail for the actions of others, even if happened on your property. The wives of these firefighters just want to avenge the deaths of their husbands, with out rational/fair thought.

Lino said...

"Maspeth Mom says...
I am a landlord, as a landlord you cannot be aware of everything a tenant does inside the apartment."

Oh come-on, quit the bullshit here.

These were WALLS substantial enough to prevent firefighters from finding a way out. The place was a labyrinth.

There is -NO- way these sorts of solid partitions get their materials loaded-in with joists sawed and hammered into place without someone knowing. The sheet rock dust in the halls would be clue enough.

This was a bad verdict by a snookered court. Firemen will die again as a result.

Anonymous said...

Let's hope that they appeal. this is horrific.

Anonymous said...

If you are an honest landlord then I have sympathy, not all tenants are darlings. I can tell you from personal experience that both the DOB and Housing Preservation are riddled with serious, life-threatening corruption and many things are hidden behind benjamin blindfolds on the eyes.

If you don't understand see: cross palms, grease, etc.

cherokeesista said...

I've made reports to D.O.B. repeatedly for over 10 years about a house on my block that is illegaly converted with 30 to 35 people living in it from attic to basement and NOTHING IS EVER DONE:(

Anonymous said...

let's hope the judge's home doesn't catch fire.

Anonymous said...

A travesty. A landlord should be aware and liable for what their tenants do.

Anonymous said...

Maspeth Mom says.

I am not sayihng that the landlord wasnt a dirtbag. But how can you know what a tenant does inside the apt. Do you really think the landlord lived in the building? Highly unlikely. Its the tenants who should have been arrested from my understanding they were found non guilty. Now matter how you look at it its a horrible thing that these men died. But sometimes no one is to blame.

Anonymous said...

Illegal conversions are part of Bloomberg's "affordable" housing policy.

Don't expect anything substantive to be done about this problem during this administration.

Tenants and FF's will continue to burn.