Charges dropped against contractor involved in massive Elmhurst apartment house fire

Black smoke billows out of the roof of a seven-story apartment building in Elmhurst on April 11, 2017.
Photo: Robert Pozarycki/QNS

Prosecutors have declined to pursue charges against a contractor arrested following a five-alarm inferno last year at the Elmhurst apartment house in which he worked.

Declan McElhatton, 53, who worked at Maintenance Asset Management in Yonkers was arrested on April 12, one day after the blaze inside a seven-story dwelling on 94th Street near 56th Avenue. Numerous families were displaced as a result of the damage.

Fire marshals charged McElhatton after determining that an open flame left near combustible material inside the building had started the blaze. Flames then quickly spread through the upper floors of the structure.

McElhatton was facing prosecution on charges of arson and reckless endangerment. However, at a Jan. 16 court hearing, Assistant District Attorney Charissa Ilardi asked Judge Suzanne Melendez to drop the charges.

“While we do believe there was probable cause for the fire marshals to make the arrest, after a lengthy investigation, at this time, we do not believe we are able to prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt,” Ilardi was quoted in a transcript of the hearing that QNS received. Melendez then dismissed the case against McElhatton and released his bail.

Matthew Galluzzo, McElhatton’s attorney, said in a letter to QNS that his client “is beloved by the managers of the buildings with whom he works, and his character and integrity are beyond reproach.”