Thursday, February 11, 2016

Updated: 2nd Ave. explosion — landlord, 3 others charged with 2nd degree manslaughter; showed 'a blatant and callous disregard for human life'


[Memorials for the victims on 2nd Avenue at 7th Street]

CBS 2 reports that "officials are set to make a major announcement" this morning regarding the deadly Second Avenue explosion from last March 26.

The announcement is scheduled for 11 a.m. at the Manhattan’s District Attorney's office. There are no other details about the announcement.

Nicholas Figueroa and Moises Ismael Locón Yac died during the explosion that leveled three buildings at 117-123 Second Ave.

To date, the city has yet to file charges against anyone in connection with the explosion. The Post reported last April that investigators have "six prime suspects" — landlord Maria Hrynenko, her son Michael Jr., contractor Dilber Kukic as well as an unidentified subcontractor and two workers.

We'll update this post as soon as officials release more information.

Updated 9:50 a.m.

NBC 4 reports that five people are facing criminal charges in connection with the gas explosion.

Updated 10:26 a.m.

The Post reports the following:

Landlord Maria Hrynenko, her son Michael Jr., and Bronx contractor Dilber Kukic ... were among the suspects brought by authorities to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office ...

“I’m a good person,” Hrynenko uttered to reporters as authorities brought her in.

Updated 11:19 a.m.



DA Cyrus Vance Jr. is announcing the charges... Among them: 2nd degree manslaughter for the Hrynenkos and Kukic — carries a maximum penalty of up to 15 years.


Updated 11:27 a.m.


Updated 11:30 a.m.

Here is part of the official release from the DA's office:

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., New York City Police Commissioner William J. Bratton, Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark G. Peters, and New York City Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro today announced the indictment of MARIA HRYNENKO, 56, MICHAEL HRYNENKO, 30, ATHANASIOS IOANNIDIS, 59, DILBER KUKIC, 40, and ANDREW TROMBETTAS, 57, in connection with a deadly gas explosion that occurred at 121 Second Avenue on March 26, 2015. The defendants are charged in a New York State Supreme Court indictment with Manslaughter in the Second Degree, Criminally Negligent Homicide, Assault in the Second Degree, and Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, among other charges.

Defendant Information:

MARIA HRYNENKO, D.O.B. 11/26/1959

Charged:

-Manslaughter in the Second Degree, a class C felony, 2 counts
-Assault in the Second Degree, a class D felony, 9 counts
-Criminally Negligent Homicide, a class E felony, 2 counts
-Assault in the Third Degree, a class A misdemeanor, 4 counts
-Reckless Endangerment in the Second Degree, a class A misdemeanor, 1 count

MICHAEL HRYNENKO, D.O.B. 11/30/1985

Charged:

-Manslaughter in the Second Degree, a class C felony, 2 counts
-Assault in the Second Degree, a class D felony, 9 count
-Criminally Negligent Homicide, a class E felony, 2 counts
-Assault in the Third Degree, a class A misdemeanor, 4 counts
-Reckless Endangerment in the Second Degree, a class A misdemeanor, 1 count

ATHANASIOS “JERRY” IOANNIDIS, D.O.B. 6/15/1956

Charged:

-Manslaughter in the Second Degree, a class C felony, 2 counts
-Assault in the Second Degree, a class D felony, 9 counts
-Criminally Negligent Homicide, a class E felony, 2 counts
-Assault in the Third Degree, a class A misdemeanor, 4 counts
-Reckless Endangerment in the Second Degree, a class A misdemeanor, 1 count
-Falsifying Business Records in the Second Degree, a class A misdemeanor, 2 counts

DILBER KUKIC, D.O.B. 6/9/1975

Charged:


-Manslaughter in the Second Degree, a class C felony, 2 counts
-Assault in the Second Degree, a class D felony, 9 count
-Criminally Negligent Homicide, a class E felony, 2 counts
-Assault in the Third Degree, a class A misdemeanor, 4 counts
-Reckless Endangerment in the Second Degree, a class A misdemeanor, 1 count

ANDREW TROMBETTAS, D.O.B. 11/18/1958

Charged:

-Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, a class E felony, 2 counts

Updated 11:31 a.m.

Councilwoman Rosie Mendez responds to the arrests:

"As we're approaching the anniversary of this tragic event I want to thank and congratulate Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance for his continuing investigation that has led to the arrest of these five individuals. The events from last year are still very much with us in the East Village. Everyday we walk by and see empty space where three buildings stood; three buildings that were part of a historic district. Everyday my businesses struggle to recover from the street closures that resulted in financial losses last year.

And everyday, the people of the East Village have been waiting for justice. Today we are one step closer. Maria Hrynenko has told reporters that she's a good person. Apparently this good person's reckless actions led to the death of two young men, led to the homelessness of dozens of families and businesses, and led to the loss of their worldly possessions. Her actions and those of four others were criminal. I look forward to the commencement of the trial and I hope this sends a strong message to other landlords and contractors that you will be held accountable for your actions."

Updated 1:45 p.m.

Here's some coverage from The New York Times:

Mr. Vance outlined a scheme as contemptible as it was craven, involving a crooked contractor, an unscrupulous plumber, a greedy landlord and her son — all so eager to get tenants into newly renovated apartments with the average rent running $6,000 per month that they were willing to cast aside any concern for safety.

Even in the last moments before the explosion, two of the defendants are accused of running out of the building without warning any of the residents or patrons inside a ground-floor restaurant or even calling 911.

“The individuals involved in the East Village gas explosion showed a blatant and callous disregard for human life,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in an unusually blunt statement.

Updated 6 p.m.

Aside from the two fatalities, Vance said that at least 13 people suffered serious injuries in the blast A 21-year-old student here visiting from Berkeley during spring break lost an eye and fractured his larynx. Two firefighters also suffered serious injuries.

Updated 10 p.m.

A few more details from different sources... ABC News reported that all of the defendants pleaded not guilty today. And DNAinfo wrote that all of the defendants, except Trombettas, were held on a $1 million bail each.

Updated 2/12

The Post today...



50 comments:

Anonymous said...

They'll announce new housing with 20% of it being below market rate, 20,000 people will apply for four apartments, and at least one of them will go to someone down with someone as who vets the lottery process?

Anonymous said...

The rent stabilized and rent controlled tenants that live in the surviving building next door continue to enjoy their neighborhood while earning big salaries (google shows one as a major home furnishings designer) and paying low three figure rents for large one and two bedroom pre war apartments. Sure, they endured hotplates when their gas was turned off post explosion, but what of those who are homeless or dead because of the explosion? Let the guilty go to jail, and let the lucky renters be quiet.

nygrump said...

10:32 are you for real? What do the people living next door have to do with landlord and contractor corruption? You need some meds.

Anonymous said...

If you're a good person, you'll seldom have the need to say "I'm a good person."

Giovanni said...

It's about time. Glad they didn't let Hyrnnko's son Michael, Jr. skate away scot-free, he was apparently in on the whole thing. Remember his Facebook pictures depicting his real estate empire and house in the suburbs? Their real estate empire is gone, due to no ones fault but their own. This is one jury I would love to be on.

Anonymous said...

I hope they all go to jail, and I hope every landlord in the city is scared shitless to mess with gas lines.

cmarrtyy said...

Yes, it is about time. And if they're convicted, I hope the DA applies the Rico Law to the profits from the land. They deserve to go to jail and they do not deserve to profit from the redevelopment of the land.

Anonymous said...

Great news.

And so goes the legacy of the once-loved Kiev.

Elizabeth Morse said...

The crime is such an example of landlord greed run riot. Just jack up the rents, will you? Then think hard about what happened in France in 1789.

Anonymous said...

From ABC7 article:

Officials said at 3 p.m., a sushi worker notified Kukic and Michael Hrynenko about the smell of gas. The men responded, that they "went down to the basement, smelled the gas and sprinted out of the building without alerting people," officials said.

Unforgiveable. They deserve life sentences.

Anonymous said...

I hope they all rot in jail....

Anonymous said...

About time, was wondering if they were going to wait another year or what.

Anonymous said...

12:22 - The Kiev was on the other side of the 7th Street.

Anonymous said...

Why did it take so long for an indictment? Oh, I forgot, the justice system and courts are a gubment crookopoly run by the criminal entity at Havana on the Hudson.

Anonymous said...

Looking at that gas hookup... What the fuck where they thinking???? We need to stop calling this an accident, as there was no accident about it..

Also, everyone take a note at those gas lines. If you see shit like this in yours, or any other building call 911. It could save a life...

Anonymous said...

The land needs to be seized and sold, proceeds to the families of the victims and tenants.

Anonymous said...

I am sure the contractor, his subs, and the master plumber will be in jail for a couple years. I HOPE they're able to get the landlord, but I think it will be difficult. Did she tell the contractor to bypass the meter? I'm sure she did. But proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the act of telling a professional to install an illegal shunt negligently caused the death of another is a huge hill to climb... The statement relies on two assumptions, that 1) her directing a professional to do something, whether illegal or not, was negligent, and 2) the result of that direction caused the death of the individual.

As for 1), generally owners are extremely well-protected from liability because they can argue they relied on the judgment of the licensed professionals they hired who are expected know the law. The prosecution would have to prove at the least that she paid for work specifically knowing in advance it was illegal. And as for 2), the contractor is the entity who performed faulty (leaky) work, not the landlord, so certainly the defense will argue their failure to install without leaks was the primary negligent act that led to their death.

It's an uphill fight and I hope the state wins. They're going to have to argue all the parties acted in tandem and are all culpable. Hell of a battle given that only one has a license.
-somethingstructural

Anonymous said...

The tenants stated that they received instructions to call the landlord if they smelled gas. Not Con Ed, not 911, but HER.

She knew what was going on, she knew it was illegal and she could get in trouble. Enough of this "I'm a good person, boohoo a widow striving to make t work" You're a greedy witch and you deserve to be punished.

nygrump said...

Just out of curiosity, I wonder if the defense lawyers expense can be written off on taxes as a business cost?

Anonymous said...

The land needs to be turned into good affordable low income housing and all of the displaced tenants should be permitted to move back in and live rent free for as many days as they were displaced for. unfortunately DeBlasio is probably already thinking this a golden opportunity towards his real estate constituents for another egregious 80/20.

Anonymous said...

This is also a reminder to everyone in the neighborhood and beyond to call Con Ed immediately if you smell gas in or near your building. I am surprised this doesn't happen more often. They can't be the only ones messing with the gas lines. I would like to find out what other buildings this plumber worked in in the neighborhood.

equilibrist said...

@1:25 yes the Kiev was across the street, but those charged--the Hrynenkos--are the original owners of the old Kiev and landlords both to that building and the ones thst came down in the explosion.

Anonymous said...

@1:25

The landlords (Hrynenkos) were the owners of Kiev.

Great legacy, huh?

Donnie Moder said...

Real estate is a dirty little business on many levels. Seems like when the father died, the wife and son could not handle running the business assets properly, playing along with the dirty games they did not have the brain power to cope with, so much so that they were criminially incompetent (i.e. negligent). They will probably plead ignorance and that they therefore did not have the criminal intent to commit the crimes. They should have hired a professsion property management company.

Anonymous said...

2:00,

Ah, 80/20/0

80% Rich
20% Poor
0% Middle Class

Anonymous said...

My hope is that it took this long for indictments to come down b/c the DA's office was assembling a very strong case.

And, FWIW: This coming summer, if you see someone using a propane barbecue grill on their terrace, rooftop, fire escape, or in their backyard, please call the FDNY.

Anonymous said...

Such an awful but true irony. Michael the father was a shrewd businessman whose welcoming smile quickly gave way to high pressure phone calls if the rent was late (never mind the ever-present mice or the lack of security that led to my own apartment break-in). The whole neighborhood knew he hired workers from Eastern Europe with questionable credentials to renovate his buildings. But I never knew him to be reckless let alone criminal. Perhaps I was naive and just happy to have an apartment in a great neighborhood at a fair price. Or maybe his son saw the greedy opportunities available as gentrification took hold big time. Yet another irony: those vanished buildings would probably be worth millions more today than they were a year ago. And as someone whose children stopped at the Belgian frites restaurant any time we visited the old neighborhood, I dread what might have happened to them had the disaster occurred on another day.

Anonymous said...

Yes but the landlord was the same. He also owned 46 east 7th next to Kiev. His widow and son are now charged.

wooooozee said...

Here,here!

Anonymous said...

Please no redevelopment on that land . . . Put a garden there!!!

Anonymous said...

@8:35pm: "No redevelopment; put a garden there" - I wonder if you would feel that way if your home & all your possessions (including, in same cases, your beloved pet/s) had been lost in that explosion.

I think the city should guarantee that what's built there is 100% affordable housing, containing AT LEAST as many apartments as were destroyed, and with ALL the displaced residents getting first choice of those new apartments. There's no way to give back to those displaced all that they have lost, nor any way to compensate them for what they've suffered & endured, but we damn well ought to TRY to make it right.




geeisme said...

Just curious - how much could this possibly have saved moneywise? I cant inagine it being a huge amount.

Anonymous said...

Call 911. Do not call Con Ed to report a gas leak. I did once and got the runaround. I kid you not!

Anonymous said...

What about a TREE in TSP Something we can reflect on

Anonymous said...

It's probably not possible, but I wish the city could take possession of this land from the landlord as part of the penalty as well as her other real estate holdings.

It's scary what these people are doing now to pack new people into these "renovated" apartments, upgraded with new kitchen counters and shiny floors but in buildings with electrical wiring that hasn't been updated in decades and who knows how many wonky gas situations.

The crazier thing is it was safer for all of us when there wasn't so much money to be made here back in the day. The landlords are now taking more shortcuts than ever.

Anonymous said...

"And, FWIW: This coming summer, if you see someone using a propane barbecue grill on their terrace, rooftop, fire escape, or in their backyard, please call the FDNY."

Because propane bbq grills on rooftops or backyards are known to be dangerous?

I don't even own a bbq grill (or have access to a rooftop or backyard), but this just screams of typical overreaction. Maybe we should ban sushi restaurants as well.

Anonymous said...

I dont know the chain of events that day or when that picture was taken, but if you look at that picture, you'll realize how CRIMINAL the gas setup was!! OMG!!! They had 3 meters removed, and they connected the only operating line with the three lines that werent operating. And they did it with a plastic tube...PREPOSTEROUS!!! CRIMINAL!!!

Anonymous said...

@12:56pm: My information comes from a member of the FDNY. And YES, propane gas grills are known to be dangerous (seriously, you need to get a clue!); they are also ILLEGAL in most situations in Manhattan. If you don't think a propane tank + a lit flame + an old building = disaster in the making, then you are a complete fool. The only overreaction here is YOURS.

Anonymous said...

My main problem with the guilt of the landlord really lie in 2 areas. 1) if she believed there was a dangerous situation why would she send her own son in ( apparently he was injured and hospitalized for injuries from the blast). 2) if she hired a contractor and those people were acting illegally did she know? Both really need to be considered. As a mother myself I would never put my children in a potentially dangerous situation

Anonymous said...

9:43 PM: It was reckless. A reasonable person should have known the setup was dangerous. I don't think they set out to harm anyone. Reckless people don't usually think they are being reckless. But the law usually asks what a reasonable person would do in a situation, not what a thoughtless person would do.

Anonymous said...

@12:32am: You are exactly right. The contractor/plumber would have known - HAD to have known - how illegal and dangerous this situation was.

As for the mother & son: I don't think stupidity, carelessness, ignorance, etc. will be an effective defense in this situation. A REASONABLE person who owns a building needs to know how to safely run that building. Similarly, a REASONABLE person does not use questionable contractors; to do so is to essentially admit that the owner is behaving questionably. You can bet if Maria Hryrnenko LIVED in that building herself, things would have been done very differently.

paddy523 said...

Laws need to change, my new landlord Jack Avid monkeyed around with our gas lines i 2014, was caught by con-ed and as a result we lost our gas for 5 months!!! But try getting anything out of con-ed to prove the wrong dong!!! their only concerned with covering their own ass! Unless you have a subpoena, they ain't saying shit.

Anonymous said...

@4:01pm: You make an excellent point that many others don't seem to see. Specifically, there must be SOME immediate (and preferably v. expensive) downside for landlords who do this. As you've mentioned, your landlord messed around with gas lines but the people who are suffering for it are you & your fellow tenants.

Anonymous said...

I previously estimated at least $150k, they bypassed the meters so they could rent the apartments without ConEd approving and installing the residential meters. 6 months minimum, maybe 12, 4 apartments at supposedly $6k a month. It's not the gas that's expensive it's the loss of use.
-somethingstructural

Anonymous said...

Somehow propane grills are used thousands of times every day and people are able to cook their food without burning down their homes.

If you can't cook with flames on a roof or backyard (like everyone else in the country) you make need to reevaluate.

What else do you want to ban? Gas ovens? Cars? Alcohol? Carbs?

Anonymous said...

Manslaughter. At least.

Extreme recklessness can be adjudged as murder.

Jill said...

Propane is definitely illegal. My building is replacing ours with a gas line we'll run to the grill, after the fire inspector came and luckily didn't give us a fine as long as we disconnected it.

What I want to know is how did they get that photo of the gas lines... It's so clearly illegal that whoever took it had to have a reason, I wonder what it was.

Magilla The Grilla said...

And where do you propose storing that propane gas, inside your apartment? In NYC propane is generally Illegal, since the NYC Fuel Gas Code states that you can't store standard propane on a balcony, roof deck, backyard or in a courtyard. Many building fires in the past were started when people opened roof or balcony doors to go get something and had sparks fly in from the nearby grill. That's why barbecuing on balconies and roofs is generally illegal. Get an electric grill, perfectly safe, and also legal.

Lucky dog said...


"My main problem with the guilt of the landlord..."
I can answer your questions, anonymous. I lived there and knew the characters well. Maria likely knew abstractly that it was dangerous, but never figured it was a danger to herself, or her son. She didn't care about other people. She is a very reckless and irresponsible person, incredibly hostile to anyone who questioned her actions. As far as "did she know?", yes indeed she did. She was personally involved in everything that happened in her buildings.

Louis E. said...

I am always reminded of Nicholas Bartha's deliberate suicide by gas explosion on 62nd Street some years ago.He didn't want to sell and split the proceeds with his ex-wife,so he killed himself,destroyed the building,and the ex-wife and daughters had a lot that was worth more without the building than with it.

It seems clear that the Hrynenkos will be forced to sell the land to settle the civil lawsuits they can expect separate from the criminal charges.I expect that the buyer will also buy the 123 lot from the Pasternacks to be able to put up one large building.But the value of the land and both the size and availability timetable of the proceeds available to compensate victims' families would be adversely affected by any effort to force increased rent regulation on the premises.The opportunity to build more market-rate apartments (and restaurants at ground level) would drive the whole transaction.
Leaving land empty because people died there would turn the whole city into a wasteland.