September start for 2nd Ave. gas-explosion trial

From left, Maria Hrynenko, Athanasios Ioannidis, Michael Hrynenko, Dilber Kukic and Andrew Trombettas at their arraignment in Manhattan Supreme Court in February 2016. They were indicted that month in the East Village building explosion. Michael Hyrnenko died last September at age 31. The case continues against the four remaining defendants.  File photos by Jefferson Siegel / New York Daily News

BY SYDNEY PEREIRA | The case for the 2015 East Village explosion is expected to go to trial Sept. 24. Ahead of the projected trial date, both parties will suggest questions for jury selection on June 25, the judge on the case, Kirke Bartley said on Friday.

The fatal fiery blast at 121 Second Ave., at E. Seventh St., killed two, injured 12 and ultimately leveled three buildings back in March 2015. After nearly a year of investigation, five individuals were indicted in February 2016: Maria Hrynenko, the building’s owner; Athanasios Ioannidis, an unlicensed plumber; Dilber Kukic, a general contractor; Andrew Trombettas, a licensed plumber; and Michael Hrynenko, the building manager and Maria Hrynenko’s son. Last September, Michael Hrynenko died at 31, leaving the remaining four defendants’ fate in the hands of the New York County Supreme Court.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office charges that the five individuals were involved in rigging up an illegal gas delivery system, which the building’s residents were unaware of for multiple years. The conspirators skirted regulations and took shortcuts that proved deadly, according to District Attorney Cy Vance. The deadly raging fire was caused by a “foreseeable, preventable and completely avoidable gas explosion,” Vance said in a statement back in February 2016.

Athanasios Ioannidis, center, and Andrew Trombettas, right, were walked by police into their arraignment in February 2016. Trombettas is accused of “renting” his plumber’s license to Ioannidis, an unlicensed plumber who is accused of twice rigging up illegal gas-siphoning systems to service the residential apartments at 121 Second Ave.

Building owner Hrynenko hired Kukic as a general contractor to renovate 121 Second Ave. Kukic, in turn, hired Ioannidis to do some plumbing work — but Ioannidis was not professionally licensed. Trombettas, though, was a professionally licensed plumber. Prosecutors said that Ioannidis fudged paperwork submitted to Con Edison and the city’s Department of Buildings using Trombettas’s license. The “gas-siphoning” system they configured ultimately led to excess gas flowing to the point where an employee at the Japanese ground-floor restaurant, Sushi Park, could smell the odor. The explosion occurred just after an inspection by Con Ed.

All the defendants except for Trombettas are charged with second-degree manslaughter.

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