2 rabbis plead not guilty in assisted living home fire that killed firefighter, resident

SPRING VALLEY, Rockland County (WABC) -- Two rabbis indicted in the fire at a Spring Valley assisted living home that claimed the lives of a resident and a firefighter earlier this year have pleaded not guilty.

Rabbi Nathaniel Sommer and his son Aaron Sommer were both indicted by a grand jury on charges of second-degree manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, fourth-degree arson, second-degree reckless endangerment, and three assaults.

They were arraigned Thursday on the indictment in Rockland County Court. After their plea they were released on bail.

The two were previously charged in June in connection with the March 23 fire that claimed 35-year-old volunteer firefighter Jared Lloyd and 79-year-old resident Oliver Hueston.

Spring Valley village building inspectors Wayne Ballard and Raymond Canario are both charged with first-degree offering false instrument and falsifying business records for allegedly falsely filing reports to New York State regarding fire inspections.

The two other suspects are only facing misdemeanor charges and were given citations instead of being arrested.

Center director Denise Kerr is charged with second-degree reckless endangerment, and Manuel Lema is charged with criminal impersonation and obstructing government administration, for their alleged actions from within the facility prior to the start of the fire.

The 35-year-old Lloyd, a father to two young boys, had served the Spring Valley Volunteer Fire Department for 15 years. His day job was with the cable company Altice.

The flames broke out inside the facility just after 1 a.m., and a portion of the building collapsed as firefighters battled the blaze.

Lloyd rushed into the burning building to rescue residents, and officials believe he became disoriented and could not find his way out.

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