What to Know
- Verdict reached in the trial of the 2015 gas explosion in Manhattan's East Village that killed 2, injured 19 others and leveled buildings
- Although no details were immediately provided, a spokesperson for the Manhattan DA's office told News 4 New York a verdict was reached
- 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
The defendants in the case of the 2015 gas explosion in Manhattan's East Village that killed two people, injured more than a dozen others and leveled three buildings were found guilty on all counts.
A jury 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, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. announced Friday.
“This is a big win for public safety in New York,” Vance said in a statement. “As construction and development continues to boom, today’s guilty verdict 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."
The defendants are expected to be sentenced on Jan. 10, 2020.
The verdict comes mere days after closing arguments kicked off earlier in the week.
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.
When the trial began in early September, 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.