CBS 2 - June 15, 2012NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) - The father-and-son owners of a Brooklyn building where five people died in a 2010 fire have been indicted on charges including manslaughter and reckless endangerment. The indictment charges that the tenants could not escape the fire on Jan. 30, 2010 because the owners had set up illegal partitions that blocked their way out of the building in Bensonhurst.
Sixty-eight-year-old landlord Vasilios Gerazounis and his 37-year-old son, Argyrios Gerazounis, are being arraigned Thursday in Brooklyn state Supreme Court.
They are charged with five counts of manslaughter in the second degree, five counts of reckless endangerment in the first degree, and one count of assault in the first degree.
The son also faces perjury charges. Prosecutors said he collected rent by going from room to room but testified under oath that he was allegedly unaware of any illegal partitions and denied knowing that more than one family lived on each floor.
Prosecutors have charged that Daniel Ignacio, a guest of one of the tenants, was drunk when he started the fire on the first floor of the 86th Street building. He is awaiting trial on murder charges.
Four men and mother who was trying to save her 2-month-old daughter and 2-year-old son were killed in the fire.
"Although the arsonist is responsible for setting the fire, he does not shoulder the blame alone," said District Attorney Charles Hynes. "The landlords share in the responsibility for each of the five deaths and the injuries. They owned, maintained, and made money from a building with illegal subdivisions that blocked tenants' ability to escape in a deadly fire."
FDNY Commissioner Sal Cassano said illegally subdivided homes are "potential deathtraps, created purely for profit, which put the lives of tenants and firefighters needlessly at risk."
The owners face up to 25 years in prison if convicted.