Rabbis may not receive jail-time after pleading guilty to deadly fire at Spring Valley nursing home
A father and son admitted in court Tuesday to recklessly starting a fire that killed two people at a Spring Valley nursing home.
Nathaniel and Aaron Sommer pleaded guilty to manslaughter and reckless endangerment at a hearing at the Rockland County Courthouse.
The two rabbis admitted to Judge Kevin Russo to using a blowtorch and coals to kosherize the kitchen of the Evergreen Court Assisted Living Facility in Spring Valley, which started the massive fire.
The judge indicated he'll go along with the prosecution and defense's agreement for sentences of probation without jail-time.
Over 100 firefighters showed up to protest this decision and past decisions that have also kept four other people originally charged in connection to the fire out of jail.
"How do you walk into a court and admit that you started a fire which killed a human being and on top of it get probation and walk free? How do you do that?" said Frank Voce, of the Rockland County Volunteer Firefighters' Association.
Sabrail Davenport says Rockland County District Attorney Tom Walsh failed to get justice for her son, Spring Valley firefighter Jared Lloyd.
Lloyd and 79-year-old Evergreen Court resident Oliver Hueston died in the March 2021 fire.
"My son volunteered for 16 years. He didn't get paid for this...and this is what happens,” Davenport says.
Walsh’s office put out a statement only announcing the pleas and the intended sentences: five years' probation for Nathaniel Sommer and three years' probation for Aaron Sommer. He has not spoken about how the deal was reached.
"Negotiations about plea deals and the whole bit. They already knew when they went inside the court that it was going to be probation,” Davenport says.
While it is Judge Russo's intent to impose sentences of probation without jail-time, the prosecutor did make it a point to say the sentences are up to the discretion of the judge. Sentencing is on Sept. 20.