Criminal Charges in the Aftermath of the Gas Explosion

Criminal Charges in the Aftermath of the Gas Explosion from NY CITY Lens on Vimeo.

Last week, five people were indicted in Manhattan Criminal Court in connection with the explosion that rocked Manhattan’s East Village almost a year ago. “The individuals involved in the East Village gas explosion showed a blatant and callous disregard for human life,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio in a statement. “We are heartened that today these defendants will be brought to justice and forced to answer for their criminal actions.”

The five are charged with creating a scheme to cut corners by rigging an illegal gas hook-up that allegedly led to the explosion that killed two, injured dozens, and almost leveled an entire block.

Local residents seemed to see the indictments as justice. “To me that constitutes manslaughter or negligence,” said 24-year-old Zach Berry who lives a couple of blocks from the blast site. “I do believe it was a criminal act.”

The building owner, Maria Hrynenko; the building manager, who is also Hyrnenko’s son, Michael Hrynenko; the contractor, Dilber Kukic; and the plumber, Anthanasios “Jerry” Ioannidis face several serious charges, including manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide, according to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office. Andrew Trombettas was indicted for lending his plumbing license to Ioannidis, who is unlicensed.

Walking past the explosion site, now just an empty fenced-in lot in the East Village, Regina Ou of Staten Island said that in some ways the five indicted deserve criminal charges. But she said she also believes the city should be doing more: “I think they should make more rules to prevent those kinds of stuff from happening because around the neighborhood is all restaurants,” said the 19-year-old. “I think they should make it more safe.”

Others put the blame solely on those who have been indicted. “They did a bad thing and bad people should go to jail,” said East Village resident Jared Wright, 19. As for his opinion about their motives, he had only one word, “greed.”