May , 2018

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A Chicago building owner whose failure to make court-ordered repairs to an abandoned building resulted in a fire that killed two Chicago Firefighters in 2010 has pled guilty to contempt of court charges and been sentenced to six months in jail and ordered to pay fines and fees, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez announced today.

In a rare criminal proceeding brought by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, building owner Chuck Dai has pled guilty to a felony charge of Criminal Contempt of Court. Dai, 65, of South Holland, failed to comply with an agreed court order requiring that the vacant building he owned be secured and that structural roofing problems be repaired prior to the outbreak of the fatal fire.

In addition to the six-month sentence in the Cook County Jail, Circuit Court Judge James Obbish ordered Dai to pay a $5,229 fine following a sentencing hearing today at the Leighton Criminal Courts Building in Chicago.

State’s Attorney Alvarez said that while failure to comply with building codes would typically result in administrative sanctions, the grave circumstances in this 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.

According to prosecutors, on December 22, 2010, a fire was started inside the vacant building at 1738-1744 E. 75th Street in Chicago. The blaze began near the rear door and quickly spread to the entire structure of the facility. When firefighters went up to the roof to vent the building, the roof collapsed. The fire killed Edward Stringer, 47, and Corey Ankum, 34, who were among dozens of firefighters at the scene. An additional 14 firefighters were injured battling the blaze.

The building, a former commercial laundry, was vacant in 2007 when City of Chicago building inspectors cited the property with 14 building code violations, specifically noting that the roof and roof trusses were rotted, had holes and were leaking.  Over the next year, Dai failed to show up at numerous court dates and was eventually fined more than $14,000 for failing to address the violations.  In October of 2009, in an effort to reduce the fines, Dai agreed to make all of the required repairs and secure the building from trespassers, actions that were never completed.

“Urban blight is a very challenging community issue and it is also a very serious public safety issue and we will do all that is possible to protect our first responders from the type of negligence that led to this terrible tragedy for the families of these public servants and the entire Chicago Fire Department,” said Alvarez.

State’s Attorney Alvarez thanked Assistant State’s Attorney Mary Lacy for her work on the case as well as the cooperative work of the City of Chicago’s Corporation Counsel.

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Welcome to CopyLine Magazine! The first issue of CopyLine Magazine was published in November, 1990, by Editor & Publisher Juanita Bratcher. CopyLine’s main focus is on the political arena – to inform our readers and analyze many of the pressing issues of the day - controversial or otherwise. Our objectives are clear – to keep you abreast of political happenings and maneuvering in the political arena, by reporting and providing provocative commentaries on various issues. For more about CopyLine Magazine, CopyLine Blog, and CopyLine Television/Video, please visit juanitabratcher.com, copylinemagazine.com, and oneononetelevision.com. Bratcher has been a News/Reporter, Author, Publisher, and Journalist for 33 years. She is the author of six books, including “Harold: The Making of a Big City Mayor” (Harold Washington), Chicago’s first African-American mayor; and “Beyond the Boardroom: Empowering a New Generation of Leaders,” about John Herman Stroger, Jr., the first African-American elected President of the Cook County Board. Bratcher is also a Poet/Songwriter, with 17 records – produced by HillTop Records of Hollywood, California. Juanita Bratcher Publisher

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