Charges Filed Against Building Owner, Contractors in Deadly East Village Explosion

Aftermath of the 2nd Avenue explosion. Photo by jdx.
Aftermath of the 2nd Avenue explosion. Photo by jdx.
Aftermath of the 2nd Avenue explosion. Photo by jdx.

A short time ago, NYC District Attorney Cy Vance announced the indictment of five people in connection with last year’s devastating explosion on 2nd Avenue.

The March 21st blast killed two people, Moises Locon and Nicholas Figueroa, and destroyed three buildings at 121 2nd Avenue. Investigators believe the explosion was caused by a rigged gas line leading inside a sushi restaurant on the ground floor. The tampered line led to apartments on the upper floors.

Property owner Maria Hrynenko and her son, Michael, Jerry Inonandis (a plumber) and contractor Dilber Kukic face second degree manslaughter charges. They also have been charged with criminally negligent homicide, assault in the second degree and “offering a false instrument for filing” in the first degree. Another plumber, Andrew Trombettas, is being charged for allegedly allowing his Buildings Department license to be used in the scheme. A grand jury indictment was unsealed this morning. The five were all arrested today and will appear in State Supreme Court this afternoon.

City Council member Rosie Mendez released the following statement today:

As we’re approaching the anniversary of this tragic event I want to thank and congratulate Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance for his continuing investigation that has led to the arrest of these five individuals. The events from last year are still very much with us in the East Village. Everyday we walk by and see empty space where three buildings stood; three buildings that were part of a historic district. Everyday my businesses struggle to recover from the street closures that resulted in financial losses last year. And everyday, the people of the East Village have been waiting for justice. Today we are one step closer. Maria Hryenko has told reporters that she’s a good person. Apparently this good person’s reckless actions led to the death of two young men, led to the homelessness of dozens of families and businesses, and led to the loss of their worldly possessions. Her actions and those of four others were criminal. I look forward to the commencement of the trial and I hope this sends a strong message to other landlords and contractors that you will be held accountable for your actions.

The district attorney called the tragedy ” foreseeable, preventable, and completely avoidable,” adding:

Development, construction, and renovation is happening across the City at breakneck speed. In this market, the temptation for property owners, contractors, and managers to take dangerous—and, in some instances, deadly—shortcuts has never been greater. As alleged in the indictment, the defendants created a deadly inferno fueled by an illegal gas delivery system installed at 121 Second Avenue, leading to the loss of two young lives, and leaving more than a dozen others with serious, permanent injuries.

Here’s the full press release from the D.A.