Monday, September 9, 2019

2nd Avenue gas explosion trial starts today

[119 2nd Ave. as seen last week]

The trial is set to start today (per ABC 7) for Maria Hrynenko and two others for their role in the gas explosion on March 26, 2015, that killed two men, Nicholas Figueroa and Moises Locón, and leveled three buildings — 119, 121 and 123 Second Ave.

The trial could last as long as three months in Manhattan Supreme Court, the Daily News reported last week.

Hrynenko, her son Michael Hrynenko (now deceased), contractor Dilber Kukic and their plumber Anthanasios Ioannidis illegally tampered with the gas line at 121 Second Ave. then failed to warn those in the building before the blast, according to the Manhattan District Attorney.

Charges against Hrynenko, Kukic and Ioannidis include second-degree manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, reckless endangerment and several counts of assault in connection to more than a dozen injured victims.

As the News reported last week, the defense is expected to argue that tampering was not the root cause of the explosion. "I think the DA is going to try and show that there were all these irregularities regarding the gas piping," said Kukic’s lawyer Marc Agnifilo. "None of that is what caused the gas to leak."

This past March, the fifth defendant, Andrew Trombettas, was sentenced to probation and community service. Trombettas had previously pleaded guilty for his role in rubber-stamping a modification to 121 Second Ave. prior to the explosion. The D.A.'s office charged him with two counts of "Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, a class E felony."

Nexus Building Development Group paid $9.15 million for the empty lots at No. 119 and No. 121 that Hrynenko owned. As the top photo shows, workers have been quickly erecting the Morris Adjmi-designed building at 119 Second Ave. (aka 45 E. Seventh St.) — that will feature 21 condo units and ground-floor retail. The new building will include a commemorative plaque that honors Figueroa and Locón.

Updated 8 a.m.

The Times has a trial preview today:

A lawyer for Ms. Hrynenko did not respond to a request for comment.

Ms. Hrynenko did not tell detectives about the illegal gas line, prosecutors said, and she shredded nine garbage bags full of documents pertaining to her real estate business.

But legal experts and defense lawyers say that it is difficult to convince a jury that someone is guilty of manslaughter in cases where slipshod construction work has led to deaths.

Under New York law, prosecutors will have to prove that Ms. Hrynenko, Mr. Kukic and Mr. Ioannidis were aware that they were acting recklessly, and disregarded the potential risk of death to others. Prosecutors would also have to show that the risks were not something that a reasonable person would have ignored.

“Being aware of a substantial risk would seem to be inconsistent with maintaining their property and obtaining tenants, making it challenging to prove that level of reckless intent,” said Kevin McCarthy, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice who previously worked as a federal prosecutor in New Jersey and an assistant district attorney in Manhattan.

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

RIP Nicholas Figueroa

RIP Moises Ismael Locón Yac

A family continues to feel the loss on 2nd Avenue

Exclusive: 2nd Avenue explosion sites have a new owner

Dedicating Moises Locón Way and Nicholas Figueroa Way on 2nd Avenue at 7th Street

Jury selection starts for defendants in 2nd Avenue gas explosion that killed 2 men


Anonymous said...

I hope the prosecution is successful and these three defendants spend many years in prison.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know where the trial is taking place (address, courtroom?) For those of us who might want to drop in to (silently) support the prosecution. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

They wont be convicted. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

Justice delayed is justice denied - and the defendants' lawyers are very, very good at getting delays. That said, I hope they get the book thrown at them.

Meanwhile, those two young men lost their lives b/c of the carelessness/heedlessness of others, and no courtroom outcome will bring them back.

Anonymous said...

They did something dangerous and illegal that killed people purely for profit, but the prosecution has to prove they did it knowing it was dangerous and reckless? Seriously? What a joke

Giovanni said...

For anyone interested in seeing how justice actually does or does not work, the court info is here:

Part 77
Assigned Justice: Hon. Michael Obus
Location: 100 Centre Street, Room 1536, 15th Floor
Phone: 646-386-4077

The case details are available online at WebCrims:

New York Supreme Court - Criminal Term

Maria Hrynenko’s top charges include 2 counts of manslaughter and 2 counts of criminally negligent homicide, one for each death. She has 18 charges and 104 counts against her in all, mostly felonies, the rest misdemeanors just in case the jury wants to go easy on her.

Case # 00074-2016
Defendant Hrynenko, Maria
PL 125.15 01
**TOP CHARGE** C Felony, 2 counts, Arrest charge, Not an arraignment charge
Description Manslaughter: Recklessly Causes Death

EV Grieve said...

New York Supreme Court - Criminal Term
Case # 00074-2016
Hon. Michael Obus
100 Centre St.

afbp said...

fine---LET THEM GO---except---take the $9.5MM and split it with the families of the victims !

Anonymous said...

You dont know what they did or didnt do. Intent matters greatly. If they were otherwise maintaining the building, renting out apts etc you cant prove intent.Thats why she has manslaughter and criminally negligent homocide charges. Did the DA overcharge due to publicity and politics? She has to be proven guilty in court. Stop the lynch mob mentality.

Anonymous said...

While I won’t handicap the odds of conviction, the notion that because the landlord put tenants in the building, she couldn’t possibly have the requisite intent to expose anyone to danger is laughable. That’s what reckless endangerment is; you know you are exposing people to dangerous risk, and you do so anyway, usually for profit. That’s why it’s criminal. Greedy assholes do greedy asshole things all the time.

Gojira said...

@Anon. 1:38 - Seriously? I am neither a plumber nor a landlord, but even I know that when you screw with gas lines you run the risk of a serious and possibly deadly outcome. Who cares if they were "otherwise maintaining the building, renting out apts etc"? That's like saying Mussolini was great because he made the trains run on time, and Hitler was simply a misunderstood painter who brought the world the VW Bug and just wanted to give the German people some more Lebensraum. SMH.

sophocles said...

For criminally negligent homicide, they have to prove that Hrynenko failed to perceive a substantial risk that her actions could lead to someone's death. For recklessness, which is a higher bar, they have to prove that she disregarded a known risk.

It might be hard to prove that she knew her actions could lead to someone's death. After all, her son was involved in the repairs, and presumably she did not knowingly put his life at risk.

I'm not a Hrynenko supporter, but she lost a son. Let the punishment fit the crime.

Anonymous said...

Three mothers lost their sons. Hrynenko was responsible for two of those deaths. Yes let the punishment fit the crime.