Hispanic landlord sentenced for death of elderly man when illegal building caught fire in New York
Evener León, a Brooklyn (NYC) landlord who stopped paying heating bills in his apartment building causing a fatal fire, was sentenced to six months in prison and five years of probation, despite the fact that the prosecution had requested a greater penalty.
The building at 1776 Nostrand Av. in East Flatbush was a “absolute disaster waiting to happen”, Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun said Tuesday at the sentencing of the 63-year-old landlord.
The deadly tragedy happened at dawn on December 2, 2019when an electrical cable connected to a second-floor heater sent flames upstairs around 4 a.m., forcing eight adults and five children to run for their lives down a fire escape.
“This landlord’s inconceivable negligence cost the life of an innocent man and injured six others when a horrific fire broke out in his illegal apartments”
Eric Gonzalez, Brooklyn District Attorney
Jean Yves Lalanne, 70, was not so lucky. He lived in the illegally subdivided upper floor of the building, where the flames blocked the stairwell, leaving the window as the only exit.
The old man jumped out of the window to escape the flames and died from the fall. “Frankly, more people could have died,” Judge Chun said yesterday.
Leon was sentenced for criminally negligent homicide, but in May the judge had acquitted him of a more serious charge of manslaughter. Prosecutors asked for the maximum sentence, 1⅓ to four years behind bars, but Chun said the old man was “somewhat old” and had no criminal record.
Prosecutors described the dangerous conditions in the building where León he had stopped paying for gas and heat for years. The second and third floors did not have sprinklers, and the third floor was converted into four illegal apartments, they told the court.
“This landlord’s inconceivable negligence cost the life of an innocent man and injured six others when a horrific fire broke out in his illegal apartments,” he said yesterday. Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez. “Today’s sentence holds him accountable and sends a strong message to Landlords who put profits before the health and safety of their tenants.”
Even after the fire while awaiting trial, León continued to violate city Department of Buildings (DOB) rules for work done there earlier this year, public records show, he said. Daily News.
DOB inspectors found workers installing a new roof and sidewalk shed without a permit in February, and discovered that someone had torn off the “eviction order” sticker on the front of the building, according to department officials. Leon had yet to correct those violations in May, records show.