Building manager sentenced in deadly Schenectady fire

April 06, 2018 06:45 PM

SCHENECTADY - When tragedy struck a Schenectady high rise in March, 2015, it was the result of a crime that occurred long before that horrific night.

Jason Sacks was the property manager at 104 Jay Street and when he canceled the alarm monitoring contract months before the fire, authorities say it created the unsafe place where four people died.

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"I think back the past three years what could have been done, what should have been done, and what wasn't done," Sacks told the sentencing judge Friday morning, "I don't know what to say other than I'm sorry."

Sacks pleaded guilty in January to four counts of criminally negligent homicide, admissions that will land him in state prison for 1-to-3 years.

"It's a mockery," decried Michael Roberson, whose brother Robert Thomas died in the Jay Street inferno. "It's hard to keep in mind every day to know that this guy is only doing 1 to 3 years for murder, and that's what it is, murder."

Even though Sacks was sentenced to 1-to-3 years for each of the four deaths, because there was only one criminal act, the sentences will run concurrently, something Judge Matthew Sypniewski calls an anomly in the legal system.

"You were supposed to give them a place to live that could be safe," Sypniewski admonished, "Instead you created  a place to die."

"I think in this case, when you looked at all the evidence, it was his ignorance of his responsibility that led to this condition," said Schenectady County District Attorney Bob Carney, "it was more than willful recklessness."

Whether it's willful or not, there's no consolation for loved ones.

"Our lives have forever been taken off a certain path of happiness," Roberson states, "the joys and pains that come with having a family member but that's all gone."

Roberson believes Sacks isn't the only one responsible for his brother's death. He thinks the entire Schenectady Building Codes Bureau should share the blame.

Kenneth Tyree, a former city building inspector, who inspected the Jay Street property the day before the fire, was acquitted of negligent homicide charges last month.



WEB EXTRA: Interview with brother of Jay Street fire victim -- not seen on TV


WNYT Staff

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