SAN FRANCISCO (CBSLA.com) — The operator of the warehouse where dozens of people died in a fire late last year is close to a mental breakdown, his defense lawyer said Friday.
Derick Almena, 47, faces 36 involuntary manslaughter charges, one count for each of persons that died during a concert in the Ghost Ship warehouse fire in Oakland last December. Max Harris, who also lived in the warehouse, faces the same charges.
Almena’s lawyer Tony Serra said Friday his client was being made a scapegoat by the authorities, claiming that the real parties responsible for the tragic fire are firefighters, building inspectors, and the utility company Pacific Gas and Electric, who all failed to shut down the unsafe structure.
In a statement last week, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said “Almena and Harris knowingly created a fire trap with inadequate means of escape, filled it with human beings, and are now facing the consequences of their deadly actions.”
Almena is accused of illegally subletting live-work spaces in the building to artists, as well as throwing for-profit concerts without a license, CBS News reports.