Photo credit: LoHud

Despite the families of the deadly victims calling for jail time, Rockland County, New York Judge Kevin Russo upheld a plea bargain agreement permitting Rabbi Nathaniel Sommer and his son Aaron to avoid jail time in the case of the Evergreen Court Home fire in Monsey.

In March 2021, prior to Pesach, Reb Nathaniel and Reb Aaron kashered the kitchen at the dilapidated Evergreen Court Home for Adults. Reb Nathaniel used a 20-pound propane-injected industrial blowtorch and Reb Aaron dragged buckets of burning coal. The heat and flames simmered and climbed through the greasy ovens and into the walls.

Hours later, a fire ignited the massive building.

The inferno caused the fatalities of firefighter Lt. Jared Lloyd, 35, and Oliver Hueston, 79.

Subsequently, Reb Nathaniel, 71, and Reb Aaron, 29, pleaded guilty to causing the fire.

The guilty plea agreement with Rockland DA Thomas Walsh included avoiding jail time. The plea deal was negotiated in June, but Wednesday was the formal sentencing.

At sentencing, Sabrail Davenport, Lloyd’s mother, emotionally pleaded with the judge to toss the plea bargain agreement and to impose a prison sentence.

She cried and raised her voice while asking Judge Russo where the justice for her family was. She played a tape of Lloyd calling Mayday before he burned to death, the last words she heard her son speak.

Davenport said she sees Lloyd’s death as a life sentence for her and her family, emphasizing, “My grandsons will grow up without their dad and what will hurt them more is knowing that justice was not served.”

Judge Russo acknowledged the emotional response from the families of the two men who died, however, he said that he will uphold the plea bargain agreement and sentence the two men to probation, highlighting that "probation was appropriate, because the two had no criminal history and had a reputation for charitable work and helping others."

Judge Russo added that the rabbis admitted they acted recklessly and the court system "doesn’t respond to attempts at vengeance and intimidation, referring to multiple protests and activities outside of the court."

Following the sentence, Rockland DA Walsh released a video statement explaining his agreeing to the plea deal, part of which described the unprecedented nature of the case. “The reckless conduct that both defendants engaged in and ultimately admitted to, has no model, no previous case law, no true analogy; it is precedent-setting. No one has been convicted, let alone arrested and prosecuted, for utilizing a torch and hot coals for a ritual religious cleaning in the manner the defendants chose that evening.”

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Anonymous said...

Un- friggin-believable!! The Talmud is like Teflon around a Jew!! Suck BS!!!

Anonymous said...

Go through the evidence that has been released. There was no hard evidence against them. The fire began over an hour after they left, as has been proven from phone records... The whole case was based upon a new NY law that permits charges brought based on speculation, which in this scenario is that a small fire had begun an hour earlier. It could have been any other cause.
The DA had promised someone would be held accountable for the tragic death of the firefighter. These tzaddikim had to plead guilty to have someone be held accountable, and not face a jury trial.

Anonymous said...

Yeah ok, if you believe that it didn’t start because of their negligence, YOU are a fool!!

Anonymous said...

If a fire fighter walks into a burning building is that called that I killed him?

Anonymous said...

I usually never comment but for this I must comment. The Rov and his son in this case isn't just a simple rabbi. This was a case a Korean for of klal yisroel. This rov is a dayan a rov a rabbi a rebbi a rosh yeshiva a marbitz torah and a one man king of chesed. He never sleeps helping all of the klal in any way possible. He is and has been involved in hatzolos nefashas for over 50 years. Anyone in the whole monsey can attest to him never hurting a fly. He was kashering so that jewish patients will have kosher for passover food available to them. Read the case and anyone yes anyone reading it will see no case even started it was totally one sided totally anti the yid