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Lawyer: Code inspector had two prior felonies

Lawyer: Code inspector had two prior felonies

Lawyer: Tyree has maintained a stable life, has strong family ties to community
Lawyer: Code inspector had two prior felonies
Kenneth Tyree, right, appeared in court Friday with his attorney, Sven Paul.

SCHENECTADY - The suspended Schenectady code inspector charged in connection with a fatal 2015 Jay Street apartment building fire has two decades-old felonies, including one for forged document possession, records show.

Kenneth Tyree, 53, of Schenectady, appeared in court Friday morning to ask for bail to be set in the case.

Judge Mark Blanchfield heard arguments and set Tyree's bail at $20,000 cash or $40,000 bond. He was released shortly before noon after posting the $40,000 bond, jail officials confirmed. 

Tyree was indicted Thursday on manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and other charges, accused of lying to investigators during the Jay Street fire probe and of failing to do his job.

Tyree inspected 104 Jay St. the day before the March 6, 2015, fire and missed or ignored an inoperable fire response system. A fire started accidentally that night, moved swiftly through the building and claimed four lives. 

Tyree is also accused of lying on his code enforcement job application in 2013. Prosecutors have not said what they believe he lied about, but they said the truth might have changed the decision to hire him.

Tyree's defense attorney, Sven Paul, disclosed the prior felonies during Tyree's bail application. The most recent is a 1986 conviction for criminal possession of a forged instrument.

Police arrested Tyree in December 1985 on a charge related to a phony check scheme, according to a Daily Gazette newspaper story at the time. Tyree, then 22, of Watervliet, stole nearly $3,000 from a bank by opening accounts and writing bad checks off one account to cash them in another account. He originally faced seven felonies but later pleaded guilty to the single forged instrument count.

Tyree received a sentence of 2 to 4 years in state prison for that crime, Paul wrote.

Tyree's first felony conviction came in 1980, when he was 16 or 17, Paul's application states. Tyree, then of Troy, then pleaded guilty in 1981 to burglarizing a Clifton Park home and received a year in jail, newspaper records show.

Paul emphasized in court that, since the 1986 conviction, "my client has had no contact with law enforcement or the criminal justice system. He has maintained a stable life in the Capital District and has strong family ties to the community."

Paul asked that bail be set at $10,000. 

Prosecutor Michael DeMatteo asked for bail of $20,000, the same amount as the other man charged Thursday in connection with the Jay Street fire: building manager Jason Sacks.

Sacks, 39, had an attorney ready Thursday to submit a bail application at his arraignment. He has since posted bond and been released.

Sacks faces the same manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide counts as Tyree. Sacks is accused of creating a dangerous condition at the building by canceling a fire monitoring service, running a building with an inoperable fire detection system and failing to have proper fire doors in the stairwell.

Sacks' attorney, Adam Parisi, also filed a written bail application, in which he states Sacks owns eight rental properties in Schenectady County, containing 15 total units. He also owns seven rental properties in Montgomery County with 14 total units. He is also the owner of Ideal Property Services.

Police arrested Sacks Wednesday at his Jay Street office.

In addition to those killed, the blaze hospitalized seven and displaced about 60 others. Investigators ruled the cause accidental, finding it was started by an unattended candle or cigarette in a fourth-floor apartment at 104 Jay St., before consuming that building and spreading to neighboring 100-102 Jay St.

Several tenants in the two buildings said the structures hadn't been properly maintained and that the alarms and sprinkler systems did not function.

Killed in the fire were Harry Simpson, 59; Robert Thomas, 31; Jermaine Allen, 37; and Berenices Suarez, 33.

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