Fatal 2015 Jay St. Fire In Schenectady: Sentencing Reached, Grand Jury Report Under Review

Apr 6, 2018

Some closure has been reached in the case involving a March 2015 fire in Schenectady that left four dead and dozens homeless.

Building Manager Jason Sacks of Scotia was sentenced in Schenectady County Court Friday morning to one to three years in prison stemming from a plea bargain that had been reached in January, when he pleaded guilty to four counts of criminally negligent homicide for failing to maintain the fire detection system in the Jay Street structure.

In March, city housing inspector Kenneth Tyree was acquitted of manslaughter and homicide charges, but convicted of offering a false instrument for filing involving his original application for the job.

A year ago, Schenectady County District Attorney Bob Carney told WAMC Tyree claimed to have inspected the building on March 5th, 2015, the day before a fire spread and destroyed the structure along with two other buildings, left 60 homeless and killed four people who lived at 104.   "A team of investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Schenectady Fire Department who are cross-designated as District Attorney Investigators, and the Schenectady Police Department conducted an extensive investigation into the conditions existing at 104 Jay Street at the time of the fire that contributed to these deaths."

Tyree is expected to be sentenced on other charges in May.

Carney said Sacks ignored deadly safety risks and failed to maintain the fire alarm system. Authorities say not a single smoke detector, fire alarm or pull alarm was operational the day of the fire.

Here’s Schenectady Fire Chief Ray Senecal at the time of the rescue: "We were able to get our people in and rescuing upwards of 60 people and get out. Unfortunately we had loss of life. It's a difficult situation."

Carney released a grand jury report Monday, which indicts Sacks and Tyree. The jury also found that failures by the City Bureau of Code Enforcement directly contributed to the four deaths.

Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy did not return calls for comment. His office is said to be reviewing the grand jury's report, provided below. 

SCGRJ on Scribd