CHICAGO — The owner of an abandoned building where the roof collapsed during a 2010 fire, killing two firefighters, has been sentenced to six months in jail.
Chuck Dai, 65, of suburban South Holland, was sentenced Thursday to six months in the Cook County Jail and ordered to pay a $5,229 fine after he pleaded guilty to contempt of court charges, according to a statement from the Cook County State's Attorney's Office.
On Dec. 22, 2010, a fire was started in a former commercial laundry building owned by Dai in the 1700 block of East 75th Street in South Shore.
When firefighters attempted to vent the roof of the building, it collapsed, killing Edward Stringer, 47, and Corey Ankum, 34. Fourteen other firefighters also were injured.
In 2007, building inspectors found Dai's building vacant and ticketed him for 14 building code violations, noting that the roof was rotted.
After failing to show up in court for more than a year and racking up $14,000 in fines, Dai agreed in 2009 to make repairs to the building and secure it from trespassers, but prosecutors said he never made those repairs.
Usually, failing to comply with building codes does not result in a jail sentence, but Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez said Dai's case warranted criminal penalties.
"Building owners have a legal and a civic responsibility to maintain their properties in our neighborhoods in a safe and responsible manner, and this case represents our commitment to holding building owners accountable," Alvarez said.
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