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Landlord, 2 others sentenced for involvement in 2015 Manhattan gas explosion

Landlord, 2 others sentenced for involvement in 2015 Manhattan gas explosion
New York City landlord Maria Hrynenko, 59,was sentenced to four to 12 years in prison this week for her role in an explosion that killed two people, injured 13 others and leveled three Manhattan buildings in 2015. Image via CBS New York

Jan. 18 (UPI) -- Three people involved in a 2015 gas explosion in New York City that killed two people were sentenced to four to 12 years in prison this week.

Last year Maria Hrynenko, 59, Athanasios "Jerry" Ioannidis, 63, and Dilber Kukic, 44, were convicted last year of second-degree manslaughter and assault in the second and third degrees.

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In addition to killing two people, the explosion injured 13 others and leveled three buildings in Manhattan's Greenwich Village.

"I feel bad for the families involved. If I could change it I would give my life away in the second," Kukic told the court, repeating the sentiment twice.

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He was the only one of the defendants who addressed the court.

Attorneys for Hryenko and Ioannidis also spoke.

Both said their clients pray for the victims daily and asked for probation and time served.

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Prosecutors charged Hryenko, a landlord who had recently renovated one of the buildings, and two workers for rigging an illegal gas line that triggered the blast.

The prosecution said Hryenko had failed to set up gas service for her property and didn't want to miss out on rent, with her attorneys countering that she had hired people to work on the building and didn't know anything about the illegal gas line.

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The explosion killed a restaurant worker and a diner in the sushi restaurant on the ground level of one of the buildings.

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The victims, Nicholas Figueroa and Moises Locon, were missing for several days before rescue workers found their bodies.

Locon's brother cried as he described "having to take [Moises] back to Guatemala in a coffin unrecognizable to them," as his body was so disfigured by the blast he had to be identified by DNA.

"What kind of justice did you give us? You didn't give us no justice. It's a slap in my son's face," said Nixon Figeuroa, Nicholas' father, after the sentencing Friday.

"Developers and property owners across the City should keep today's sentencing in mind as New York's building boom continues into 2020," Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance said in a statement. "If you cut corners based on expediency and profit and kill or injure New Yorkers in the process, you are engaging in criminal conduct and my Office will seek significant prison time."

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