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Two NRI motel owners were charged with manslaughter


New Jersey, January17, 2007
Ramesh Patel

Two NRIs, Randhir Maisuria, 39 and Prakash Patel, 37, the owners of the Irvington Motor Lodge, were charged with aggravated manslaughter, accused of causing the deaths during a fire in their motel by repeatedly ignoring safety regulations, including chaining exits shut.

The fire started on Oct. 2, 2005 at 10:30 a.m. in a first-floor room. There were 60 people staying in the 80-room motel at the time. It is said that exit doors were reportedly illegally locked and people could not escape. Three people died of smoke inhalation.

Investigators say before the fire swept through the motel, its owners had been fined on two separate occasions. One cited in February and 2nd cited in April 2005 for chained and locked exit doors. Firefighters cut the chains and they were fined $2,000 after the second offense.

Both men were arrested at their homes in Roselle Park and held Wednesday on $500,000 bail each.

Defense attorney Michael Critchley says his clients are not criminally responsible for the guests who died in the fire. "My clients were not charged with causing the fire. They are the proprietors of an institution where someone else set the fire," he said.

Both men pleaded not guilty today during their arraignment. They are facing first degree aggrivated manslaughter, and several other charges. If convicted, Maisuria and Patel each face up to 30-years in prison.

Mostly who had lost their homes were staying there. Most of the time, false alarms were triggered by the people who smoke crack cocaine and it was a frequent problem for the township