$24K in rent set in motion the fatal 2015 East Village blast. Prison now looms for the landlord and contractors

Maria Hrynenko, Dilber Kukic and Athanasios Ioannidis were sentenced on Friday

New York /
Jan.January 17, 2020 03:30 PM
Firefighters work to extinguish a fire as a building burns after an explosion on 2nd Avenue in March 26, 2015 (Credit: Getty Images)

Firefighters work to extinguish a fire as a building burns after an explosion on 2nd Avenue in March 26, 2015 (Credit: Getty Images)

Nearly five years after a gas explosion in the East Village killed two people and injured 20, the landlord and two contractors have received prison sentences for their role in the incident.

Maria Hrynenko, who owned the building at 119-121 Second Avenue, contractor Dilber Kukic, and plumber Athanasios Ioannidis were sentenced to four to 12 years in prison Friday, the New York Daily News reported. The three had run an illegal gas line to the property, which caused the explosion.

Firefighters continue to hose down the site on March 27, 2015 (Credit: Getty Images)

Firefighters continue to hose down the site on March 27, 2015 (Credit: Getty Images)

“The defendants did in a matter of speaking roll the dice of the lives of many people,” judge Michael Obus said at the sentencing. ”It is actually miraculous that more people, including tenants, passersby, and firefighters were not injured or killed.”

The trio were found guilty of manslaughter, assault, reckless endangerment and other charges in November.

According to prosecutors, the landlord was in risk of losing tenants and $24,000 in annual rent if she could not provide gas, and used an illegal setup to divert gas from a restaurant on the ground-floor to the apartments.

“She was not only complicit, she was the driving force behind it,” the judge said of Hrynenko. “And whether she needed the money or not, this was about being able to have tenants pay rent in this building.”

During the trial, it was revealed that Kukic and Hrynenko’s son fled the building just before the explosion, without warning anyone else of the danger.

In 2017, shortly before the trial began, Hrynenko was able to sell the site to Nexus Building Development Group Inc. for $9.15 million, and Nexus has planned a 21-unit condo project on the site. Explosion victims have sought to receive compensation from the proceeds of that sale.

As detailed in a TRD examination of apartment gas outages Monday, many observers believe delays in restoring gas service to buildings became worse in the wake of the East Village incident, as well as an explosion in Harlem the year prior, as utilities and city officials have sought to improve safety. [NYDN] — Kevin Sun


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