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Can an alleged arsonist escape eviction under NY COVID laws?

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An accused arsonist who allegedly twice set fire to his luxury midtown apartment building is trying to use Gov. Cuomo’s new pandemic rules to dodge eviction, his landlord claims.

The alleged firebug has left residents in the 37-story hi-rise “in constant fear for their lives,” according to court papers filed by the landlord, who has been trying to oust him for months.

But when faced with an eviction notice — after allegedly causing $3.5 million in damage to the West 59th Street building — Christian Ledan filed a form claiming he’d had financial hardship because of COVID-19.

The COVID-19 Hardship Declaration forms are part of new rules signed into law by Gov. Cuomo in December. Most tenants who file the form have their evictions paused for weeks.

Christian Ledan pays just $1,117 monthly for a one-bedroom apartment at One Waterline Square under affordable housing rules. Market-rate one-bedrooms in the building go for nearly $6,000 a month.

Court documents showing damage to the apartment of Christian Ledan after he set a fire in his closet and left, propping the door ope
Court documents showing damage to the apartment of Christian Ledan after he set a fire in his closet and left, propping the door open.
Court documents

After weeks of erratic and paranoid behavior that included Ledan, 48, screaming and cursing at people in the lobby, and claiming he was being hacked, watched in the shower and monitored by the FBI, he allegedly set fire to cardboard boxes in his kitchen around 4:30 a.m.

“The voices in his head told him to do so,” according to a fire marshal’s report and court papers.

“Nervous about keeping the fire inside,” he dragged the burning materials into the hall, where authorities found “a pyre,” according to a criminal complaint charging Ledan with second-degree arson.

Court documents showing damage to the apartment of Christian Ledan after he set a fire in his closet and left, propping the door open.
Court documents showing damage to the apartment of Christian Ledan after he set a fire in his closet and left, propping the door open.
Court documents

The FDNY was forced to break open Ledan’s door and “drag” him out, the landlord said in legal papers.

No one was hurt in the July blaze, but that “was by a thin stroke of luck,” landlord RCB3 Affordable LLC claims.

At the time, housing courts were closed due to Cuomo’s eviction moratorium, and a source said the pandemic delayed a fire marshal’s report on the incident.

The former residence of Christian Ledan.
The former residence of Christian Ledan.
J.C.Rice for NY Post

By the time Ledan was arrested in September, he claimed to have no memory of the fire.

With the ongoing criminal case not scheduled to be heard in court until May 10, RCB3 Affordable Vice President John Gagnier begged for help in court papers, pleading, “This situation cannot continue.”

At least one fearful neighbor broke their lease and moved, and another tenant voiced concern Ledan would “kill us all,” according to the court filing. The fire and water damaged all seven elevators and common areas, the landlord claims in court papers seeking to boot Ledan.

Court documents showing damage to the apartment of Christian Ledan after he set a fire in his closet and left, propping the door open.
Court documents showing damage to the apartment of Christian Ledan after he set a fire in his closet and left, propping the door open.
Court documents

RCB3 Affordable notified the fiery tenant in February his lease would be terminated. On March 15, Ledan filed the COVID-19 hardship declaration form.

Two days later, Ledan allegedly set a second fire, this time in his closet, according to the landlord’s lawsuit, which claims building workers found smoke pouring from Ledan’s door, which was propped open with a laptop. The cause of the fire is under investigation, the FDNY said.

Court documents showing damage to the apartment of Christian Ledan after he set a fire in his closet and left, propping the door open
Court documents showing damage to the apartment of Christian Ledan after he set a fire in his closet and left, propping the door open.
Court documents

Tenants who file the hardship form in the face of eviction typically have their cases put on hold until at least May 1, under new rules from Albany. More than 25,500 tenants citywide filed the form as of last week, according to the Office of Court Administration.

Ledan’s claim of financial hardship is bunk, asserts the landlord, who notes in the litigation that the “entirety” of Ledan’s rent has been paid for not by him, but with a subsidy.

RCB3 Affordable has barred Ledan from the building for now, and says costs from both fires now total more than $4 million. The landlord wants a judge to deem Ledan an exception under the new rules and his behavior grounds for his immediate ejection.

Ledan did not return messages seeking comment.

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NYPD releases video of gunman firing into group in the Bronx

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New video tweeted by the NYPD Sunday shows a gunman wildly firing down a Bronx street into a group of people in Fordham Manor, leaving two men wounded, cops said.

“WANTED for ASSAULT: Do you know this guy?” the NYPD wrote on Twitter.

“On 6/25/21 at approx 11:10 PM, in front of 2710 Morris Ave in the Bronx, the suspect fired several rounds towards a group, striking a 26-year-old male and a 20-year-old. Any info? DM @NYPDTips, or anonymously call them at 800-577-TIPS.”

The suspect who shot at a group of people in the Bronx on June 25, 2021.
The suspect who shot at a group of people in the Bronx on June 25, 2021.
NYPD
The suspect firing the gun in the Bronx.
The suspect firing the gun in the Bronx.
NYPD
The shooting left two people injured, according to the NYPD.
The shooting left two people injured, according to the NYPD.
NYPD

The 26-year-old was shot in the buttocks and the 20-year-old was shot in the leg, police said. Both were expected to survive.

The victims said they were standing with a group of friends when the “guy just came up and started shooting,” a police spokesman said.

No words were exchanged, video shows. 

There were no immediate arrests.

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FDA finds peeling paint, debris at US plant making J&J’s COVID vaccine

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A US plant that was making Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine must fix a long list of problems including peeling paint and unsanitary conditions and practices to resume operation, according to a highly critical report by the Food and Drug Administration.

Experts said addressing the issues raised in the scathing FDA inspection report could take months.

Neither J&J nor the FDA has said when they expect vaccine production to restart at the Baltimore plant owned by Emergent Biosolutions. Only two other plants are currently equipped to supply the world with the key drug substance for J&J’s vaccine.

“It may take many months to make these changes,” said Prashant Yadav, a global health care supply chain expert at the Center for Global Development. He described some of the issues raised by the FDA as “quite significant.”

No vaccine manufactured at the Emergent plant has been distributed for use in the United States. However, J&J said it will exercise its oversight authority to ensure that all of the FDA observations are addressed promptly and comprehensively.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was put on a pause in the US over a potential link to a blood clotting condition.
Getty Images

The health care conglomerate has drawn scrutiny for months over its halting process to scale up production of a vaccine that is easier to handle and, by virtue of being a single shot, easier to use than other authorized vaccines.

Its use in the United States has been paused since last week as health officials study a possible link to a very rare but serious blood clot condition.

Emergent has been seeking regulatory authorization to make the J&J vaccine in the United States. It stopped production at the plant recently, saying the FDA had asked it to do so after an inspection.

J&J’s plant in Leiden, the Netherlands, is still producing doses for the world. It has another facility in India, which is currently curtailing exports of the shot as it struggles to vaccinate its own population.

Johnson & Johnson reiterated on Wednesday that it was working to establish a global supply chain in which 10 manufacturing sites would be involved in the production of its COVID-19 vaccine, in addition to the Leiden plant.

The company has a US government-brokered agreement with rival drugmaker Merck, which is preparing to make doses of J&J’s vaccine.

Failure to train personnel

The FDA in its final 12-page inspection report said it had reviewed security camera footage in addition to an in-person site visit to the Emergent plant.

It found a failure to train personnel to avoid cross-contamination of COVID-19 vaccines from Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, which had also been produced at the site. The agency also cited staff carrying unsealed bags of medical waste in the facility, bringing it in contact with containers of material used in manufacturing.

The FDA reviewed security camera footage and visited the Emergent BioSolutions plant in Baltimore.
Getty Images

Earlier this week, the House launched an investigation into whether Emergent used its relationship with a Trump administration official to get a vaccine manufacturing contract despite a record of not delivering on contracts.

Emergent said in a statement that it is working with the FDA and J&J to quickly resolve the issues outlined in the report.

Production of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is not yet authorized for use in the United States, was previously stopped at the Emergent plant after ingredients from that shot contaminated a batch of J&J vaccine, ruining millions of doses.

The FDA also noted that Emergent did not produce adequate reports showing that the vaccines it was producing met quality standards.

The inspection, carried out between April 12 and April 20, also found the building not of suitable size or design to facilitate cleaning, maintenance or proper operations.

J&J said it was redoubling its efforts to get authorization for the facility as quickly as possible.

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One dead after pair of fires breaks out in Manhattan

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One person was killed and several others were injured in a pair of Manhattan fires Wednesday morning, officials said.

The first blaze erupted in Midtown around 8:15 a.m. inside a DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse at 213 W. 34th St., where an escalator became fully engulfed in flames — sending smoke billowing into the first and second floor and the interconnected 40-story hotel building, fire officials said.

It was not immediately clear which hotel it was.

Five firefighters suffered minor injuries putting out the blaze.

“The fire went out, but we have a smoke condition that we’re trying to alleviate,” FDNY Battalion Chief John Porretto said at the scene. “Units are going to remain on scene until all the smoke alleviates.”

The fire marshal will determine the causes of the fire.

A second blaze broke out 15 minutes later on the Upper East Side at 1576 2nd Ave., officials said.

A three-alarm fire at 213 W. 34th Street in Manhattan that left one dead
A three-alarm fire at 213 W. 34th St. in Manhattan left one dead.
NYFD

One man died in the fire and a second man was in serious condition at Lenox Hill Hospital, police said.

A firefighter suffered minor injuries battling the blaze and was taken to Cornell Hospital, fire officials said.

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