The owner of a Flatbush apartment has been indicted for manslaughter after a fire left one tenant dead and nine others, including four children, dead.
Luckner Lorient, 78, of East Flatbush, Brooklyn was arraigned on Thursday on a 14-count indictment in which he is charged with second-degree manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, second-degree reckless endangerment, third-degree assault and endangering the welfare of a child.
At 12:39 a.m. on November 19, 2014, a fire broke out at 1434 Flatbush Avenue, according to the indictment. The fire spread quickly to the floor, walls and ceiling of a living room and simultaneously spread through the second floor hallway and up the stairs to the third floor. Twenty of the 23 tenants were home at the time, most of them sleeping.
Many of the tenants suffered moderate to severe smoke inhalation and three were seriously burned. Jeff Frederic, 24, died of smoke inhalation.
Lorient, who was a pastor in the first-floor church, allegedly ignored violations and vacate orders dating back 10 years. Multiple power strips and extension cords that stretched through the hallway and into each room are believed to have caused the electrical overload. Lorient is also accused of other violations, such as illegally converting the railroad apartments to SROs (single-room occupancy).
“Once again, we see the tragedy that unfolds when profit is put before safety," New York City Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro said, according to the Kings County District Attorney. "This fire claimed the life of one New Yorker, left nine others with serious injuries, and put more than 100 FDNY members’ lives in danger. I commend the great work of our Fire Marshals and every agency that worked together to bring this case forward and sought justice for the innocent life lost.”
“This case shows how illegally-divided apartments can cost lives," New York City Buildings Commissioner Rick D. Chandler said. "The building owner’s reckless disregard for both the law and his responsibility to protect his tenants cost a young man his life.
Lorient is being held on a bail of $1 million cash or $2 million bond and ordered to return to court on Aug. 10. He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted of the top count.