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Criminal charges filed against landlord and accomplices in East Village gas explosion

New York City residents likely remember seeing images of the aftermath of a gas explosion that rocked the city's East Village neighborhood last March. As a result of the explosion and fire, two people died and dozens more were injured and lost their homes when the building went up in flames. Nearly one year later, the individuals responsible for causing the dangerous conditions which led to the explosion have been formally charged.

According to court documents, the owner and landlord of the building at 121 Second Ave, which contained several apartments and was home to the restaurant Sushi Park, hired a contractor to complete renovation projects in the building. Using the master plumbing license of a friend, the contractor hired an unlicensed plumber to complete plumbing work in the building. The following year, the landlord asked the same contractor and individual who completed the illegal plumbing project to siphon gas from the first-floor restaurant to feed into lines for tenants upstairs.

The illegal gas line was discovered in a subsequent inspection by Con Ed and turned off. The landlord is alleged to have then taken action to illegally tap into the gas line of an "uncapped, commercial-grade meter at an adjacent property."

On the morning of the explosion, the landlord ordered the contractor and unlicensed plumber to manipulate "the gas delivery system at 2 p.m. to prepare for an inspection," by Con Ed. Shortly thereafter, a restaurant employee reported smelling gas and the explosion occurred.

In addition to facing multiple criminal counts including manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment; it's likely that those who were injured or who suffered the loss of a loved one in the explosion will take legal action to recover damages.

Source: Courthouse News Service "Landlord, Contractors Charged in NYC Explosion," Adam Klasfeld, Feb. 11, 21016

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