Tuesday, November 7, 2017

12 Secrets of the Thanksgiving Day Parade, by Kirby Sommers

SECRET 1. The parade was originally called The Christmas Parade (which is why the last float has Santa waving to the crowds). It made its debut in 1924 as a way for Macy’s to celebrate the expansion of its store which now covered an entire city block. The first participants were employees of the store.
SECRET 2. In the beginning the parade included bears, camels, monkeys and elephants from the Central Park Zoo. The balloons were replacements for the original animals.
SECRET 3. From 1928 to 1932, the handlers of the large balloons would end the parade by letting the balloons fly into the sky instead of deflating them. In the beginning they burst until they were redesigned letting them float for a couple of days.
SECRET 4. Address labels were sewn in the balloons so that the people who found them could then mail them back and receive a gift from Macy’s (some say it was a $100 reward).
SECRET 5. The parade used to start at 145th Street and Convent Avenue. It would then go west on 110th Street to Broadway where it would then stay on Broadway until it reached 34th Street.
SECRET 6. From its beginning to date there have been 174 different giant balloons.
SECRET 7. There are about 230 dressers, 100 makeup artists and 4,000 volunteers who make the big event happen.
SECRET 8. Because of the Thanksgiving Parade Macy’s is the second largest consumer of helium in the country after the U.S. Government.
SECRET 9. In 1941 after the U.S. entered World War II through its ending in 1945 the Thanksgiving Day parade was suspended. The helium that would have been used on the balloons was donated to the war effort instead producing 650 pounds of scrape rubber.
SECRET 10. In 1988 Olive Oyl (Popeye) was the first female cartoon character featured as a balloon in the parade.
SECRET 11. A “balloon pilot” is responsible for each balloon and must be able to walk the entire 2.5 mile route backward.
SECRET 12. Felix the Cat was the first balloon. The newest additions for 2017 are Olaf from the Disney film “Frozen” and Chase from “Paw Patrol.”

2017 Copyright Kirby Sommers
Kirby Sommers is the Founder of LandlordLinks.Net helping renters in New York City to rent a better apartment and bypass broker fees.
Kirby Sommers is also the President of the Cornfeld Tenants Association

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Halloween on West 69th Street: A Historical Perspective by Kirby Sommers

Halloween on West 69th Street

A Historical Perspective, by Kirby Sommers


Anyone could see that the wind was a special wind
this night, and the darkness took on a special feel because it was All Hallows' Eve.” -Ray Bradbury

Photo by Kirby Sommers | Copyright 2017

Halloween on the lush tree-lined streets of West 69th Street between Broadway and Central Park West could be Manhattan's most mystical and intriguing event. The well-guarded annual celebration, host to thousands of trick-or-treaters, is shrouded in secrecy among residents who keep mum for fear of attracting even more candy seeking goblins to the already wickedly mobbed monster celebration.
Practically overnight, rows of brownstones, many dating back to the 1890s, along with early 20th century apartment buildings, transform themselves into haunted houses. Macabre corpses, dangling skeletons, swinging bats, giant spiders, decaying mummies, witches in flight, red eyed demons, and other creepy ghouls sprout limbs from windows, hang from ledges, or spook you from tall mature trees.
 No one would ever guess the elaborate Halloween d├ęcor on most of the buildings, on what is the safest and largest Halloween party for children of all ages, takes place on what was once an almost barren street.
Halloween on West 69th Street began in 1969 at a time when only six trees could be counted between Broadway and Central Park West. Gentrification was spurred on by the construction of Lincoln Center during the 1960s. This lured young professionals of the New York intelligentsia — teachers, writers, artists — into the area in their quest for affordable housing. However, these new residents kept their children inside their apartments and away from the menace still found in pockets of the neighborhood. One resident who has been on the block since 1964 said of the era: “It was a pretty rotten time for my kid to be growing up on the block which was a desolate wasteland.”

EARLY YEARS: Creation of the Block Association

One cloudy moonlight night, in the spring of 1969, after a would-be burglar was chased off the rooftop at 107 West 69th Street by the police, robe-clad residents found themselves discussing the incident that shook them from their sleep.
The group of young artists and professions, scoffed at by their Upper East Side peers for choosing to live in a yet to be sought after locale, came up with the idea of creating a Block Association before returning to their slumber on that frightful murky night.
The first President of the newly formed W69th Street Block Association was a young Cornell law student named Richard Gottfried (elected to the New York State Assembly in 1970 — a post he still holds to this day). Needing a place for meetings, Gottfried approached Christ and St. Stephen’s Church, and enlisted the support of then rector Rev. Josepgh Zorawick.
Father Zorawick graciously invited the group to use the church’s undercroft as a meeting place. Without the assistance of the Church it would have been nearly impossible to have our now famed Halloween celebrations, or any of the other wonderful programs the Block Association has created throughout the years.
Halloween on West 69th Street
Gwen Verdon (then married to Bob Fosse) approached the newly formed Block Association for permission to bring her little girl, Nicole, outside of their apartment building at 91 Central Park West to trick or treat on the block. West 69 Street had become, in a relatively short time, a sort of Andy Griffith’s Mayberry, with residents feeling they were living in a small town within a big city.
The association agreed and many of the buildings eagerly participated. Some residents decorated their front stoops with pumpkins while others spilled out onto the street with children and bags of candy in tow to partake of the festivities.
The image of little Nicole dressed as Lady Godiva with long blond cascading locks sitting on a white custom built carousel-type horse with four men hoisting her off the ground still lingers on in the memory of many. But then, this was the little girl of Broadway legends, and it was the perfect over the top moment that in many ways inspired the amazing unbroken Halloween tradition of this most extraordinary block.

Halloween Attendees

The spell spread quickly. Where at first there may have been 20 children who lived on the block in attendance, that number more than doubled the following year when they invited their friends. Then it quadrupled the year after, and then it grew exponentially when mothers from different parts of the city began bringing their children to the best-kept-secret-trick-or-treat event on the Upper West Side.
At last count over 4,000 children with their parents and friends wearing wonderful costumes make the pilgrimage to the sweet street of treats. But, shush, you didn’t hear this from me.
A 1978 excerpt of the W69 St newsletter states:
“More than 500 children attended the Block Association’s (1978) Halloween Party, and for the first time BOTH BLOCKS between Central Park West and Broadway were closed to traffic.”
During the early years there were costume parades and prizes for the little ones with the best costume. Everyone would meet in front of St. Stephen’s Church were princesses, goblins and superheroes with eager little fingers reached into an over-sized cauldron full of candy for their treats.
Once the streets became too packed and had to be closed to traffic, the parade gave way to crowds of people and children of all ages, sizes, and ethnic backgrounds, making their way from one spooky building to another.
Volunteers in participating buildings hand out candy every year to a seemingly endless chorus of giggling children thrusting out their hands yelling ‘trick-or-treat!’

Halloween Building Decorations

By the mid 1970s some of the buildings along West 69th Street decorated their front steps with carved pumpkins surrounded by golden fall leaves. Others strung up lights up around the trees from where bats or spiders ominously lurked.
Among the first scary attractions was the infamous Spook Tunnel that had its beginnings in the alley of building #28. It then moved to building #39 where the servant’s entrance was transformed into its new “come in if you dare” facade. One long-term resident said: “They screamed to go in and they screamed to come out. It scared them to death. It was wonderful.”
Forty-five years later the decorations on some of the brownstones and buildings lining West 69th Street have morphed into a magical Harry Potteresque-like world. To get all the work completed some people begin working either in their lobbies or the exterior of their buildings by the middle of October to be ready in time for All Hallows’ Eve.
One family hires professional aerialists and entertainers. People still talk about Spiderman climbing in and out of windows and rappelling down the front of their brownstone.


Halloween: An Unbroken Tradition

October 29, 2012 started ominously in New York City. President Obama issued an emergency declaration for New York as Hurricane Sandy headed toward the city. Pre-storm surges had already caused severe flooding in some areas and the city shut down. Schools were closed and even the subways stopped working as everyone hunkered down for the storm of the century.
The Block Association sent out an email to residents. The police department canceled the no parking permit for Halloween on West 69th Street as the officers would be busy needed to keep New Yorkers safe. Officially, it meant Halloween on West 69th Street was, for the first time, not going to happen.
However, some of the buildings had been decorated and some residents still hoped to distribute candy to whoever might show up on October 31st at 6pm.

Magic on 69th Street

Over 2,000 people made it to the block even though the streets were not closed to traffic. The Auxiliary Police (who have helped with crowd control for over three decades) didn’t get word that Halloween had been canceled and so they showed up too. Parents, who had been locked away at home with their children for days, were incredibly grateful and all had a wonderful respite from the fright of Hurricane Sandy. All were incredibly grateful to the residents who made Halloween happen even when it wasn’t supposed to.

 It is a spirited block: West 69th Street. If anyone had a doubt about the commitment of the people who call this home and those who work tirelessly behind the scenes to make magic on Halloween — that night proved our Halloween tradition was unbreakable.

Predates the Village’s Halloween Parade

It is fascinating to note that Halloween on West 69th Street predates the Village’s Halloween Parade which began in 1974. Ours is also the only two-block Halloween celebration anywhere that welcomes thousands of goblins, ghouls, cartoon characters, super heroes and princesses clamoring at our doors . There is no other party like ours anywhere else in the city. All the children, young and old, who are privy to our evening of enchantment end the evening with pumpkins full of candy and giddy with happiness.
If we had a looking glass that could see back in time to 1969 and caught sight of robe clad residents huddled in front of 107 West 69th Street under a midnight moon talking about things that go bump in the night, we’d notice a glow around them, and know the magic had just begun.
By Kirby Sommers

All rights reserved.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Rats / Garbage / Mice / Garbage 143 West 69 Street + 2020 Broadway / ABC Properties

Hello neighbors,

Everyone has noticed and everyone has complained about the growing garbage lining our street and in front of the building at 143 West 69 Street.

Many people, myself included, have had to dodge both rats and mice when trying to walk either into the building or out of the building (and sometimes even without the garbage bags -- because of the residue these bags leave behind).


Between 2020 Broadway and 143 West 69 Street our buildings bring in approximately $250,000 every month. That is ONE QUARTER OF A MILLION DOLLARS every month as rent into the coffers of ABC Properties.

And $3,000,000.00 and THREE MILLION DOLLARS every year.

I think we should live without rats and without mice and without the exposure to the endless amounts of toxins, health hazards, fire hazards, inappropriate repairs, and a mile long list of issues all of us have to deal with as individual renters of these apartments.

Since we are collectively paying THREE MILLION DOLLARS every year, we then are paying the super, the porter along with a host of other expenses related to the operation of these buildings.

Effectively that means we OWN this building. Perhaps not legally, but if we STOPPED PAYING RENT, ABC would listen to our reasonable requests.

UNTIL YOU DECIDE TO STOP PAYING the THREE MILLION DOLLARS (or more) every year to live with rats and mice >>


When you see garbage blocking the front door of the building at 143 West 69 Street (residents from 2020 Broadway use this street every day as well to go to the park, post office, etc) ASK the porter, or the super, or whoever you see to REMOVE IT FROM THE STEPS OF THE BUILDING.

I did that this morning.

You can do it too.

This is OUR building.

You have a say in what happens in our home.


Say something.

Do something.

Or stop complaining.

Yours truly.

Kirby Sommers, President
Cornfeld Tenants Association
143 West 69 Street
New York, NY 10023

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Ten Things You Should Know About Mold: If You Live in an ABC building >> You Have Mold

Ten Things You Should Know about Mold

  1. Potential health effects and symptoms associated with mold exposures include allergic reactions, asthma and other respiratory complaints.
  2. There is no practical way to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment; the way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture.
  3. If mold is a problem in your home or school, you must clean up the mold and eliminate sources of moisture.
  4. Fix the source of the water problem or leak to prevent mold growth.
  5. Reduce indoor humidity (to 30-60%) to decrease mold growth by:
    • Venting bathrooms, dryers and other moisture-generating sources to the outside
    • Using air conditioners and de-humidifiers
    • Increasing ventilation
    • Using exhaust fans whenever cooking, dishwashing and cleaning
  6. Clean and dry any damp or wet building materials and furnishings within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.
  7. Clean mold off hard surfaces with water and detergent, and dry completely. Absorbent materials such as ceiling tiles, that are moldy, may need to be replaced.
  8. Prevent condensation: Reduce the potential for condensation on cold surfaces (i.e., windows, piping, exterior walls, roof, or floors) by adding insulation.
  9. In areas where there is a perpetual moisture problem, do not install carpeting (i.e., by drinking fountains, by classroom sinks, or on concrete floors with leaks or frequent condensation).
  10. Molds can be found almost anywhere; they can grow on virtually any substance, providing moisture is present. There are molds that can grow on wood, paper, carpet, and foods.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

104-106 Bedford Street co-op owners complain about ABC's mis-management of funds

104-106 Bedford Street, managed by ABC Properties (Ralph Davis)

From the time we created this website for the Cornfeld Tenants' Association we have been receiving emails, phone calls and inquiries from other residents in rentals or co-op managed properties complaining about ABC Properties and their owners / management team.

The owners of the apartments at 104-106 Bedford Street desperately want to CHANGE management to "an honest manager" for the property. They claim money has been mis-spent, misappropriated and that "they are full of corruption."


NOTE: IF ANYONE READING THIS ALSO LIVES IN AN ABC owned or run property and you are not receiving adequate help/management/ or have severe issues like we have with the rat infestation and garbage problems >> POST UR ADDRESS in the comment section or EMAIL us cornfeldtenants (at) gmail.com

Friday, August 18, 2017

Noi Due and Noi Due Carne continuing to block fire escapes!

Taken on August 17, 2017 (Arrows point to fire escape which is constantly blocked by Noi Due's door to their illegal shed; and all the things they put under it.

Also he is putting empty tin containers into the other storage bin. There are RATS, mice, roaches -- so these containers very well may be contaminated BEFORE food goes into it.

Rat Infestation / Rent Reduction Request / 143 West 69 Street and 2020 Broadway / Restaurants

Dead rat in front of 143 West 69 Street

Dear Arthur, Alex:

Your residential tenants at the buildings known as 143 West 69 Street and 2020 Broadway respectively request for you to set up rules for the restaurants you have rented space to and who occupy the ground or basement space in both buildings.

We have sent you numerous photos of improperly placed trash, rats, oil, soiled streets, open food crates, condensation in the alleyway, fire hazards, blockage of fire escapes, along with a myriad of other problems (health and safety hazards) created by the carelessness of owners of the restaurants.

These same men, by the way, go home to their 5,000 square foot mini-mansions after day's end leaving behind a series of health hazards for the tenants who occupy the 100 apartments in both buildings.

When residents of either 143 West 69 Street or 2020 Broadway walk out of the buildings we call home we are greeted by garbage, debris, packed streets with random people, smoke filled streets (with random people), multiple trucks (and their fumes); and just last week there was a dead pigeon and a dead rat (photo attached).

It is your responsibility to create a safe and clean environment for your tenants. It has not been safe, and a far cry from clean.

At this point in time ALL residents should receive a reduction in rent as there has been a reduction in services.

This reduction in rent should be retroactive for the duration of the time you added both Noi Due and Barcibo; and should continue in effect until the time you resolve the rat infestation and serious health hazards we are exposed to on a daily basis.

A 50% rent reduction to all tenants in both buildings is what we are requesting until you resolve these on-going issues.

We are happy to meet with you and hope to find a resolution to this onslaught of rats.

All residential tenants deserve a safe and decent home.

Yours truly,

Kirby Sommers, President
Cornfeld Tenants Association
143 West 69 Street
New York, NY 10023

P.S. Golan Chetrit’s (Noi Due) letter, via his attorney, Michael Morici, dated August 14, 2017 is a clear SLAPP attempt to intimidate us into silence. SLAPPS are illegal in New York City and a direct violation of New York Civil Rights Section 70-a.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

What to know about Rats: 143 West 69 Street / 2020 Broadway New York NY 10023

One of the dead rats in the alleyway where the restaurants receive their food deliveries

Worldwide, rats and mice spread over 35 diseases, according to the Centers for Disease Control. These diseases can be spread to humans directly, through handling of rodents, through contact with rodent feces, urine, or saliva, or through rodent bites. Diseases carried by rodents can also be spread to humans indirectly, through ticks, mites or fleas that have fed on an infected rodent.
The CDC lists seven diseases that rats and mice in North America transmit directly such as Plague and Rat-bite fever and 11 they transmit indirectly. That list includes Lyme Disease, Relapsing Fever, West Nile Virus and others, some of which can be fatal.
Rodents spread diseases through droppings and urine. In addition, they have fleas on their skin. They have thousands of bacteria. They urinate as they walk. The droppings spread disease and contamination. It makes people sick.
Landlords and restaurant owners are supposed to take every precautionary step against the elimination of such a dangerous health hazard to all tenants.

Clean It Up! No More Rat Infestation, Please! Noi Due, Noi Due Carne, Westside Restaurant, Barcibo Mediterraneo

Private residence of Golan Chetrit (owner Noi Due and Noi Due Carne) at 63 Random Farms Circle, Chappaqua, NY 10514

While residents of 143 West 69th Street and its sister building 2020 Broadway continue to fight against the rodent infestation, overwhelming garbage piles, and potentially life threatening fire hazards created by the owners of Noi Due (143 West 69 Street) and Noi Due Carne (141 West 69 Street), the owner Golan Chetrit resides in a beautiful five bedroom home (photo above).

Public information (screen shot above) shows the home was purchased for $1,125,000.00 on January 28, 2014.

The Cornfeld Tenants Association has sent letters on behalf of our approximately 100 apartment dwellers in both buildings requesting our landlord(s) Arthur Cornfeld and his son, Alex Cornfeld (ABC Properties) set some rules to all the restaurants regarding to abate these hazardous conditions.

Pile of trash left by Noi Due in front of 143 West 69 Street (rats, rats, rats)

2 rats scurrying out from under the garbage bags Noi Due piles up in front of the entrance to 143 West 69 Street

Photo shows alleyway and fire escape blocked by Noi Due shed (notice door). Additionally other unsanitary conditions by placing table cloths, napkins, waitstaff uniforms on ground which is littered with rat droppings

Photo of dead rat found in front of 143 West 69 Street

Noi Due trash placed in front of 143 West 69 Street entrance (although they deny this)

Noi Due open trash left in front of 143 West 69 Street

Under New York law our landlord is responsible for keeping the premises clean and free of vermin and other hazardous conditions.

Failure to do this constitutes a Breach of the Warranty of Habitability.

We have requested a rent abatement for the duration of the time ABC Properties has rented space to both Noi Due and Barcibo (now there is a new one calling itself Barcibo Mediterraneo at 2020 Broadway).

While both buildings have been bombarded with restaurants we, as residential tenants, demand from our landlord they control the on-going hazardous conditions created by the commercial tenants they have rented to.

While the owners of these restaurants leave every night and go home to their large 5,000 square foot homes, we are left behind to deal with the overflowing garbage and rat infestation. No more, no more, no more. 


Cornfeld Tenants Association

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Noi Dui Carne Grand Opening Tonight: Is it safe for the residents of 143 West 69 Street?

Plates for the grand opening of Noi Due Carne in rear, flanked by rat traps

One of several rat traps behind Noi Due and steps from the open plates for the grand opening of Noi Due Carne, tonight, Sunday, July 16, 2017

Wiring into Noi Due restaurant (potential fire hazard?)

Two more air conditioning units wired into Noi Dui from building (another fire hazard?)

Noi Due is about to open their second restaurant, Noi Due Carne, this evening Sunday July 16, 2017.

While their plates sit in an open crate near several rat traps the residents of both 143 West 69 Street and its sister building, 2020 Broadway remain concerned about various fire hazards.

On-going communication with their attorney to ensure the owners don't put residents or their patrons in harm's way hasn't yielded the desired results. In order to show the attorney the problems we are facing, we have had to begin to send photos to prove our case.

"If there were a fire today, no one in the back would get out," a resident who lives in one of the rear apartments told Kirby Sommers, President of the Cornfeld Tenants Association.

While Noi Due attempted to maintain their "Grand Opening Date" a secret, it was leaked.

But that is not all that leaked. 

Leaking condensation onto the ground floor level are air conditioners installed to cool off the patrons of the kosher restaurant.

"It's not safe. These things emit carbon monoxide and that's dangerous," another concerned tenant offered then added: "And then there is the matter of all of the cross wires and services from one building to another. Let's hope this isn't the next East Village disaster."

More pipes attaching to and from 143 West 69 Street to 2020 Broadway for the restaurants' use.

One of Noi Due's sheds blocking the fire escape. Shows some of the pipes installed from one building to the other.

Noi Due owner(s) Golan Chetrit in the rear with the sheds. That is how the tablecloths, the napkins, the servers uniforms are handled. Put on the ground on top of rat droppings!

Letter to Noi Due's Attorney: Blocking Fire Escape, Hate Crime in Restaurant, Garbage

Golan (Noi Due owner) in the alleyway where their shed blocks our fire escape

(WE POST THESE LETTERS ON THE BLOG so that all residents can find this information)

Dear Mr. Morici,

I thank you for your prompt reply.

However, we requested proof - as the only company we have seen hauling away Noi Due's garbage is the NYC Department of Sanitation (which is illegal). Would you be kind enough to provide us with a document stating Progressive Waste removes Noi Due's commercial garbage (or will be doing so as of a certain date)? 

Please note: just this morning Noi Due's garbage was sitting in front of 143 West 69 Street along with a trail of blood which stained the entry way to Noi Due (lower level) all the way to the street in front of the building.

We have become aware of certain hate crimes coming from the restaurant -- and seeing a trail of blood from their doorway to the street is very disturbing. (You can just go to their facebook page and read the reviews where you will find that their server physically assaulted a patron and her baby (who was in a baby carriage). This person was not initially fired or disciplined by the owners of Noi Due. However this woman assaulted another person and has been charged with a hate crime. 

Everyone is entitled to run a business. And everyone makes a mistake. However, we have been trying very nicely to improve the situation with the restaurants (and Noi Due) regrettably has taken first place with the issues we are hoping to resolve.

With reference to the FIRE ESCAPE(s) - please see attached photo. Their shed (which door opens right under the fire escape) blocks the fire escape every day, multiple times every day (when they are open). Additionally, they place many things under this area, their crates are just one thing, other things, every day are kept in a place that should remain free of any encumbrances so as to save lives in the event of a fire.

Additionally, while other residents (myself included) may every now and then see a person asking patrons to move - this is rare. What is not rare is having to step over their patrons as we try to get in and out of our building. Or trying to wave away cigarette smoke (which as you know is dangerous to our health -- even as second hand smoke).

I remain hopeful on behalf of all our tenants as well as our neighbor buildings that the outstanding issues with Noi Due can be resolved.

Awaiting your reply.

Thank you.

Kirby Sommers, President 
Cornfeld Tenants Association
143 West 69 Street
New York, NY 10023

When a Landlord Cuts Corners: The East Village Explosion

121 Second Avenue (East Village Explosion)

Wanted to re-post this here to remind everyone what can happen when unlicensed workers (like supers) are told by their bosses (landlords) to do the work.



Defendants Set Up Illegal Gas Delivery System, Causing Deadly Explosion and Fire
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., New York City Police Commissioner William J. Bratton, Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark G. Peters, and New York City Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro today announced the indictment of MARIA HRYNENKO, 56, MICHAEL HRYNENKO, 30, ATHANASIOS IOANNIDIS, 59, DILBER KUKIC, 40, and ANDREW TROMBETTAS, 57, in connection with a deadly gas explosion that occurred at 121 Second Avenue on March 26, 2015. The defendants are charged in a New York State Supreme Court indictment with Manslaughter in the Second Degree, Criminally Negligent Homicide, Assault in the Second Degree, and Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, among other charges. [1] 
“The seven-alarm fire that killed two people and engulfed three buildings in March 2015 was caused by a foreseeable, preventable, and completely avoidable gas explosion,” said District Attorney Vance. “Development, construction, and renovation is happening across the City at breakneck speed. In this market, the temptation for property owners, contractors, and managers to take dangerous—and, in some instances, deadly—shortcuts has never been greater. As alleged in the indictment, the defendants created a deadly inferno fueled by an illegal gas delivery system installed at 121 Second Avenue, leading to the loss of two young lives, and leaving more than a dozen others with serious, permanent injuries. Today’s case demonstrates the outstanding coordination between the NYPD, FDNY, DOI, and DOB on this investigation, and I thank our partners for their commitment to ensuring the public safety of City residents and visitors.”
NYPD Commissioner William J. Bratton said: “These defendants unnecessarily put a number of people in a highly dangerous situation, one that ultimately proved deadly and which jeopardized the lives of countless others, including first-responders. I want to commend both the emergency personnel who answered the call-for-duty on that day, as well as the investigators and prosecutors who worked diligently over a long period in developing this case.”
DOI Commissioner Mark G. Peters said: “These indictments show that falsifying documents and other dishonest practices not only corrupt the City’s oversight of construction sites, but can have real life-threatening consequences. DOI investigators were on the scene from day one with our partners, investigating criminal conduct and determining the integrity of the professionals responsible for the safety of those inside the building. Today, we hold them accountable for intentionally defying regulations and breaking the law—in the name of the victims and for the safety of all New Yorkers.”
FDNY Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro said: “Last March, we saw that when the callous choice is made to put money before common sense and safety, innocent people lose their lives. The defendants’ actions displayed a total disregard for the laws and rules in place to protect all New Yorkers—both residents and first responders. Tragically, two people were killed that day and the Department was extremely lucky to not lose any of its members fighting this difficult, deadly fire. I want to thank the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, the Department of Investigation, the NYPD and our FDNY Fire Marshals who vigorously investigated the case.”
According to the indictment and documents filed in court, in 2013, MARIA HRYNENKO hired KUKIC as a general contractor to renovate several of MARIA HRYNENKO's properties in New York City, including 121 Second Avenue, a five-story building in the East Village that housed four floors of residential housing and a street-level Japanese restaurant called Sushi Park.
KUKIC, in turn, hired IOANNIDIS to perform plumbing work at 121 Second Avenue. During this time, IOANNIDIS—who was not professionally licensed—paid a former partner, TROMBETTAS, to use his master plumbing license and professional credentials to submit required paperwork to the New York City Department of Buildings (“DOB”) and Con Edison (“Con Ed”). A master plumber is prohibited by law to lend his or her stamp to any other person for any reason. TROMBETTAS never went to 121 Second Avenue and is accused of renting his license to IOANNIDIS and others, enabling the filing of false paperwork. 
In early 2014, MARIA HRYNENKO entered into lease agreements with tenants for all of the apartments at 121 Second Avenue. At the time, however, Con Ed had not yet approved the installation of gas meters for residential units in the building, which was managed by the defendant’s son, MICHAEL HRYNENKO. 
In July 2014, MARIA HRYNENKO informed KUKIC that gas for the apartments should be taken from Sushi Park’s gas meter. Shortly thereafter, IOANNIDIS illegally connected flexible hosing to the restaurant’s gas meter in order to provide gas to the building’s tenants, who were not informed of the source of the gas. A subsequent inspection performed by Con Ed and FDNY revealed the set-up to be unsafe and likely to disconnect, break, or leak. Con Ed promptly turned off the gas supply, leaving both Sushi Park and apartment tenants without gas, and advised MARIA HRYNENKO to hire a licensed plumber to rectify the situation. 
Instead, the defendants constructed another illegal, unsafe gas delivery system by installing a series of pipes and valves connecting the units in 121 Second Avenue to an uncapped, commercial-grade gas meter in the adjacent, vacant property at 119 Second Avenue, which was also owned by MARIA HRYNENKO. The system was set up in the back of the building basement, behind locked doors, hidden from Con Ed, and obscured from view by tenants, workers, and potential inspectors. While constructing the makeshift gas delivery system, the defendants failed to obtain proper permits, submit gas tests to Con Ed and DOB, install fire stopping to impede the spread of fire between buildings and floors, put protective sleeving between foundation walls, and support the piping with proper brackets. In order to prevent anyone from tampering with the system, IOANNIDIS also removed the handles of shut-off valves that controlled the gas flow, effectively limiting the ability to determine whether gas valves were closed or open and potentially enabling dangerous, multidirectional gas flow through the pipes.
In August 2014, IOANNIDIS—using TROMBETTAS’ license—sent an affidavit to Con Ed claiming that a pressure test on the restaurant’s gas meter had been performed successfully. By the middle of the month, Con Ed restored gas to the restaurant, while upstairs tenants continued to receive gas by way of the defendants’ illegal gas delivery system.
At approximately 2:00 p.m. on March 26, 2015, two Con Ed employees arrived at 121 Second Avenue to perform an inspection. Prior to the inspection, IOANNIDIS and KUKIC manipulated the gas delivery system by shutting off the gas supply connecting 119 and 121 Second Avenue and opening the shut-off valves. Because of several deficiencies with the proposed gas meter location, Con Ed employees did not approve their installation. At the time, there was no sign of leakage or odor, and the full extent of the unauthorized gas delivery system remained hidden from inspectors’ view. 
After failing the inspection, KUKIC and MICHAEL HRYNENKO went down into the building basement and turned on the gas supply from 119 Second Avenue without checking whether the gas valves were open. The shut-off valves, which were in fact open, allowed gas to flow through the pipes and out of the uncapped meter bars into the restaurant.
At approximately 3:00 p.m., a Sushi Park employee smelled gas and notified MARIA HRYNENKO, who instructed KUKIC to check on the source of the odor. Surveillance footage depicts KUKIC and MICHAEL HRYNENKO entering the Sushi Park basement and then swiftly sprinting out of the restaurant without warning any of the patrons or workers and running toward the East 7th Street entrance to the building basement, where the illegal gas delivery system was set up.
Soon thereafter, the gas—which had been flowing through the pipes and out of the uncapped meter bars—ignited and caused an explosion. Moises Locon, an employee of Sushi Park, and Nicholas Figueroa, a diner, who were both inside the restaurant at the time of the explosion, were killed. At least 13 other individuals suffered serious injuries as the lower floors of 121 Second Avenue buckled and caught fire, which quickly spread and destroyed adjacent properties, leading to the eventual collapse of the properties at 119, 121, and 123 Second Avenue.
Assistant District Attorney Rachana Pathak is handling the prosecution of the case, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Deborah Hickey, Senior Supervising Attorney of the Rackets Bureau, Assistant District Attorney Judy Salwen, Principal Deputy Chief of the Rackets Bureau, Assistant District Attorney Michael Ohm, Deputy Chief of the Rackets Bureau, Assistant District Attorney Jodie Kane, Chief of the Rackets Bureau, and Executive Assistant District Attorney David Szuchman, Chief of the Investigation Division. Assistant District Attorney Harrison Schweiloch, Trial Preparation Assistant Alexandra Oviedo and Former Investigative Analyst Michael Segnan, Media Services Technician Ronald Gonzalez, Assistant Media Services Technician James Oliva, and Cell Site Analyst Nathan Weber provided additional assistance with the investigation.  
District Attorney Vance thanked the following agencies for their assistance with the investigation: NYPD Arson & Explosion Squad, and in particular, Detectives Louis Duccheschi, Edward Simonetti, Andy Cohen, John Dimare, Lt. Steven Russell, and Det. Jose Flores, of the Manhattan South Homicide Squad; DOI, and in particular, Forensic Investigator Erskine Fleming, Special Investigator Dan Taylor, and Chief Investigator James McElligott; FDNY, and in particular, Battalion Chiefs John Dunne and Edward Tierney, Firefighter Mike Shepherd, Fire Marshals from the Bureau of Fire Investigation, and countless others; DOB, and in particular, Assistant Chief of Plumbing Raphael Truelsen; and Gregg M. Mokrzycki, of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Questioned Documents Unit. 
[1] The charges contained in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. All factual recitations are derived from documents filed in court and statements made on the record in court.
Defendant Information:
MARIA HRYNENKO, D.O.B. 11/26/1959
Rockland, NY
  • Manslaughter in the Second Degree, a class C felony, 2 counts
  • Assault in the Second Degree, a class D felony, 9 counts
  • Criminally Negligent Homicide, a class E felony, 2 counts
  • Assault in the Third Degree, a class A misdemeanor, 4 counts
  • Reckless Endangerment in the Second Degree, a class A misdemeanor, 1 count
Sparkill, NY
  • Manslaughter in the Second Degree, a class C felony, 2 counts
  • Assault in the Second Degree, a class D felony, 9 count
  • Criminally Negligent Homicide, a class E felony, 2 counts
  • Assault in the Third Degree, a class A misdemeanor, 4 counts
  • Reckless Endangerment in the Second Degree, a class A misdemeanor, 1 count
Queens, NY
  • Manslaughter in the Second Degree, a class C felony, 2 counts
  • Assault in the Second Degree, a class D felony, 9 counts
  • Criminally Negligent Homicide, a class E felony, 2 counts
  • Assault in the Third Degree, a class A misdemeanor, 4 counts
  • Reckless Endangerment in the Second Degree, a class A misdemeanor, 1 count
  • Falsifying Business Records in the Second Degree, a class A misdemeanor, 2 counts
DILBER KUKIC, D.O.B. 6/9/1975
Bronx, NY
  • Manslaughter in the Second Degree, a class C felony, 2 counts
  • Assault in the Second Degree, a class D felony, 9 count
  • Criminally Negligent Homicide, a class E felony, 2 counts
  • Assault in the Third Degree, a class A misdemeanor, 4 counts
  • Reckless Endangerment in the Second Degree, a class A misdemeanor, 1 count
Queens, NY
  • Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, a class E felony, 2 counts