Opening statements began Monday in the trial for a 2015 East Village explosion that killed two people and left dozens injured.
Building owner Maria Hrynenko, 59, contractor Dilber Kukic, 44 and unlicensed plumber Athanasios “Jerry” Ioannidis, 63, face a slew of charges including manslaughter, second-degree murder, criminally negligent homicide, assault, and reckless endangerment, CBS reports.
Prosecutors say the March 2015 explosion on Second Avenue was caused by an illegal gasline set up by Hrynenko, Kukic, and Ioannidis. The New York Times reported that the trio tapped into the gas line to “service” tenants while the building was getting renovated.
They face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
Hrynenko hired Kukic to renovate the apartments, and his work was completed in 2014; however, Con Edison did not approve the gas lines.
Residents, who were reportedly paying upwards of $6,000 per month in rent, started to smell gas in the building, and that’s was when workers found that the residence had been using gas lines from the sushi restaurant on the ground floor.
Con Edison turned off the gas for over a week and restored service after the tapping item was removed. Hrynenko owned another building nearby and had rigged the gas lines and pipes for that building as well, prosecutors allege.
Con Edison had issues with the proposed meter location on the day of the explosion.
After the secret line was shut down during Con Edison visit, it was allegedly turned back on by Hrynenko’s son Michael, who did not close the valves in the basement that had been opened by Con Edison.
Later that day, Hrynenko was alerted by a gas smell by the restaurant management. Her son and Kukic went to investigate and were seen on video leaving the building without calling authorities. Shortly after, the explosion happened.
The gas explosion led to a fire, which killed a Moises Ismael Loćon Yac, 27, a busboy at a sushi restaurant and Nicholas Figueroa, 23, a customer. The fire leveled half the block, destroying four buildings on Second Avenue and East Seventh Street.
Hrynenko’s son Michael, 31, managed the building facilities and died in 2017. If he were still alive, he would reportedly also be facing charges. Finally, Andrew Trombettas a licensed plumber, plead guilty to charges earlier this year.