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Rabbis Nathaniel, Aaron Sommer avoid jail time under plea deal in Spring Valley fire that killed Firefighter Jared Lloyd, resident Oliver Hueston

Rabbis Nathaniel, Aaron Sommer get probation in Spring Valley assisted living center fire
Rabbis Nathaniel, Aaron Sommer get probation in Spring Valley assisted living center fire 02:22

NEW CITY, N.Y. -- It has been 912 days since the terrible fire in Rockland County that destroyed an assisted living center, killing a resident and a heroic firefighter.

On Wednesday, the rabbis who recklessly caused the blaze were sentenced to probation -- over the objections of many.

"You guys should be ashamed of yourselves!" one person screamed.

The lingering anger was evident as Nathaniel and Aaron Sommer were escorted from the courthouse, many rejecting the rabbis' earlier expression of remorse.

"It didn't mean nothing. It was hollow," said Sabrail Davenport, mother of firefighter Jared Lloyd, who was killed in the blaze.

"I tried my whole life to help people and I did the exact opposite here. I have hurt so many people, and I feel terrible for them," Nathaniel Sommer said.

The father/son rabbis admit recklessly causing the fire that consumed the Evergreen Court assisted living facility in March 2021. They used a blowtorch during a pre-Passover cleansing of the kitchen. Fire smoldered undetected inside a wall and then grew into an inferno, fire officials said.

In court, Davenport played the mayday call issued by her son, who was killed while rescuing residents.

"The Sommers caused that fire that dark, dreadful night on March 21 and killed my only child. I'm praying ... I'm praying that you all consider the pain that this horrendous act has caused me and my family," Davenport said.

Also killed in the blaze was 79-year-old resident Oliver Hueston.

The plea deal called for probation, and that's what the father and son received.

"Neither defendant has ever been arrested, much less convicted," Judge Kevin Russo said.

Russo acknowledged the anger over the deal, but said it was carefully crafted and fair.

Protesters insist District Attorney Tom Walsh should have fought for at least some prison time.

Walsh has been avoiding the media for months and did so again Wednesday. He released a recorded message defending the no-prison plea deal, saying his office long has sought alternatives to incarceration for first-time offenders, like the father and son rabbis.

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