The leaseholder of an Oakland, California warehouse where 36 people died in a fire during a 2016 rave was sentenced to 12 years behind bars Monday — but most of that time won’t likely be spent in jail.
Derick Almena, 50, was already on house arrest after being released from jail last year over coronavirus concerns and was ordered to serve the rest of his sentence wearing an ankle monitor at home.
Almena had been jailed since 2017. In January, he pleaded guilty to 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter in exchange for the 12-year sentence and avoiding another trial. His first trial ended in a hung jury.
“I know that no family member will find this in any way acceptable, and I accept that responsibility,” Alameda County Superior Court Judge Trina Thompson said after the sentencing.
Families of the victims slammed the judge’s decision as too lenient.
“This lenient, slap-on-the-wrist sentence is vastly inappropriate for the crimes Derick Almena committed,” the family of victim Sarah Hoda said in a statement. “Upholding the DA’s irresponsible plea recommendation would shortchange 36 victims and their families.”
Prosecutors charged that Almena was negligent when he illegally converted the two-story warehouse into a residence and event space for artists dubbed the “Ghost Ship.”
The blaze broke out on Dec. 2, 2016 during an electronic dance party, trapping revelers on the second floor.
Furniture, extension cords and other flammable materials were packed inside the building. There were also no smoke detectors or sprinklers, according to prosecutors.
Max Harris, the building’s property manager, was found not guilty in 2019.
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