Two rabbis who admitted to causing a fire at a New York nursing home were given no time behind bars — leaving the community and first responders outraged.
Nathaniel Sommer and his son, Aaron, were charged in connection to the deadly fire at Evergreen Court Home for Adults in March 2021, WABC reported. The rabbis used a propane blowtorch and coal in a ritual to prepare the kitchen and ovens before Passover. Sommer has carried out the cleansing of the area at the home for 15 years.
Two people died due to the fire, including Jared Lloyd, a Spring Valley volunteer firefighter, and a 79-year-old resident identified as Oliver Hueston. Lloyd was on the scene, saving residents from the blaze before he died.
Sommer,71, pleaded guilty to two counts of manslaughter and Aaron, 29, to reckless endangerment after reaching a deal earlier this year. And on Wednesday, Sept. 21, according to reports, a judge gave the duo several years of probation and ordered them to pay $600 in court-related fees.
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Rockland County court judge Kevin Russo argued that the rabbis have never “been arrested, much less convicted,” CBS News reported. At the sentencing, Sommers acknowledged how his actions had impacted the families involved.
“I tried my whole life to help people, and I did the exact opposite here. I have hurt so many people, and I feel terrible for them,” Sommer said, per the outlets.
According to the Rockland/Westchester Journal News, dozens gathered to protest outside the courthouse. Inside, however, Lloyd’s mother called for justice and emotionally reiterated how Lloyd’s death would affect not only her for life but his children as well.
“We know this will not bring Jared back, but out of respect for my son Jared and his fellow firefighting brothers in Rockland County, no jail time is not an option,” Sabrail Davenport said in court, the outlet reported. “I am praying that you all consider the pain that this horrendous act has caused me and my family. I’m praying also that you search your conscience because you will have to live with your decision for the rest of your life.”
Rockland County Executive Ed Day also chimed in, stating that he does not concur with the sentencing the rabbis received, citing their “reckless and felonious behavior.”
“As I have stated countless times, the Lloyd and Hueston families do not feel this is justice for their loved ones who perished in that fire. I extend my heartfelt condolences to the families now serving a life sentence as they mourn the loved ones serving a death sentence,” Day said, according to WABC.
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