The Master Tenant of the Ghost Ship warehouse in Oakland, where 36 people tragically died in a 2016 fire, has pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter charges.
As part of the plea deal, Derick Almena will be sentenced to serve nine years. Almena is currently serving time on house arrest after posting a $150K bond in May of last year because of COVID-19. Due to his time served in prison since 2017 and credit received for good behavior, prosecutors don't foresee him returning to prison to serve out the remainder of his sentence.
The victims' families were notified last week that a plea deal was on the table, and the revelation has drawn reactions of shock and disappointment. “My heart dropped, especially when I heard it was going to be a slap on the wrist," Colleen Dolan, mother of Chelsea Faith Dolan said. "I want my daughter back; we want to be with our family members who died. He gets to be with his family.”
Almena first signed the lease to the warehouse in 2013. Prosecutors claimed he violated his agreement, however, by illegally converting it into residences and event space. Though the cause of the deadly fire was never determined, it was believed to have been started due to an electrical malfunction.
The Ghost Ship fire is the deadliest fire in Oakland's history.
Source: BuzzFeed News