What to Know
- Those found guilty in the case of a gas explosion in Manhattan's East Village that killed 2 and injured 19 others received their sentence Friday
- When the trial began in September 2019, prosecutors say the defendants' actions showed "blatant disregard for the well-being of others"
- A restaurant worker and a diner in the sushi restaurant on the ground level of one of the collapsed buildings were killed in the explosion
Three people involved in the 2015 gas explosion in Manhattan's East Village that killed two people, injured more than a dozen others and leveled three buildings were sentenced to four to 12 years on Friday.
A jury last year found Maria Hrynenko, 59, Athanasios "Jerry" Ioannidis, 63, and Dilber Kukic, 44, guilty of manslaughter in the second degree and assault in the second and third degrees, among other charges.
The judge said he took the ages of the three accused into consideration when handing down the sentence.
During the sentencing, Kukic was the only defendant who addressed the court.
“I feel bad for the families involved. If I could change it I would give my life away in the second," he said -- repeating the sentiment twice.
Hrynenko’s attorney also spoke. As he did, his client -- who was the landlord -- cried and looked into the gallery. He asked that she be sentenced to probation and time served, saying she prays for the victims everyday.
He also talked about how great a person she is, saying she gives shoes to the homeless, lowers rent of people in need and is not greedy.
Additionally, Ioannidis' attorney talked about his client’s background and said Ioannidis recognizes the loss of the families of the deceased and injured.
Ioannidis' attorney went on to say that what happened that day will haunt his client and he prays for the victims everyday.
He also asked for probation and time served, arguing his client is a good soul.
Following the verdict last year, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said the decision "puts property owners, contractors, and managers on notice: my Office will pursue criminal charges against those who place expediency and financial gain over life and limb."
Prosecutors charged the landlord and two workers for rigging an illegal gas line that triggered the blast on Second Avenue.
A restaurant worker and a diner in the sushi restaurant on the ground level of one of the collapsed buildings were killed in the explosion. Their badly burned bodies were discovered by rescue workers digging through the rubble days later.
Following Friday's sentencing, the parents and family of Nicholas Figueroa, one of the men killed, expressed their disdain with the sentenced given to the three individuals, calling it a slap in the face. They think the defendants should have gotten more time.
When the trial began in September 2019, prosecutors say the defendants' actions showed "blatant disregard for the well-being of others."
Defense lawyers said their clients did not cause the blast.
Sources familiar with the investigation previously told NBC 4 New York that months before the explosion inspectors found the gas line in the basement rigged with a rubber hose to circumvent the Con Edison gas meter. This could have saved money and perhaps allowed for gas to flow to some apartments that had not yet been cleared for service. Safety violations were registered and an immediate shut down was ordered until the problem was corrected, the sources said.
No one was charged with any wrongdoing at that time and the case was treated as a safety violation by inspectors, the sources said.