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Brooklyn Landlord Gets Jail Time For Fatal Building Fire

1776 Nostrand Ave.

A Flatbush landlord will serve six months in jail and five years of probation after he was found guilty of criminally negligent homicide because of a deadly fire at his property caused by a space heater.

Evener Leon was sentenced Tuesday over the 2019 fire, which was caused by a cord tied to a space heater on the second floor of 1776 Nostrand Ave., a building Leon owned and lived in with his family, The City reports.

Once the fire had spread to the third floor — which had been illegally divided into four apartments — and the stairwell, 70-year-old Jean Yves Lalanne was trapped. The authorities claimed at the time of indictment the reason Lalanne couldn’t reach the fire escape at the back was because of the illegal layout. As a result, he was forced to jump to his death from the third floor.

“This building was an absolute disaster waiting to happen because of the conditions, and in fact, it did happen,” Judge Danny Chun said at sentencing. “Frankly, more people could have died.”

Leon, 62, was convicted at a bench trial in May. Prosecutors said Leon had given his tenants hot plates and space heaters instead of paying for gas and heat, and tenants had complained to the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development about not having access to heat, hot water, gas and electricity.

“Instead of providing central heat, judge, he did this, he gave them space heaters,” District Attorney’s Special Counsel Frank Longobardi said at sentencing. “Everyone knows that space heaters are really dangerous.”

Prosecutors had asked the court for up to four years because he had not accepted responsibility for the fire. In January, a space heater sparked the deadliest fire in New York in 30 years. The fire started on the third floor of ​​333 East 181st St., in the Fordham Heights area of the Bronx, and ultimately killed 17 people.