A Rego Park man who runs his own maintenance company faces criminal charges for allegedly pouring mercury into a Queens family’s air conditioning unit after getting one too many complaints about the malfunctioning system.
Yuriy Kruk, 48, of Alderton Street owns and operates the A+ HVAC and Kitchen Corporation. According to Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, a Jamaica Estates family contacted Kruk during the summer of 2015 to perform various repairs to their home.
Prosecutors said the victim repeatedly complained to Kruk that the second-floor air conditioning unit wasn’t working properly. Kruk replied that the system needed to be replaced, and in July of 2015, a new unit was installed.
Soon after the unit’s installation, law enforcement sources said, one of the victims noticed drops of a silvery liquid on the floor near the air conditioning units, and the same liquid dripping out of the vents in which Kruk had worked.
Members of the Fire Department’s Haz-Mat Unit responded to the home after receiving a 911 call and determined that the substance was mercury — the highly toxic liquid metal. The family of three, which includes a husband, wife and their son, complained of having symptoms of mercury poisoning — including joint pain, headaches and lethargy.
All three family members were tested and found to have elevated levels of mercury in their bloodstream, Brown said.
“The defendant allegedly had a final fix for the complainers and is alleged to have placed poisonous mercury in the new AC,” Brown said in a statement. “Exposure to the element could prove fatal over time and did make the residents sick. Fortunately a family member spotted the chemical commonly referred to as quicksilver and alerted police.”
Kruk was arrested on May 30 as the result of an investigation that the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) Bureau of Environmental Crimes conducted. He was charged in a six-count indictment with second-degree attempted assault and first- and fourth- degree endangering public health, safety or the environment.
Court records noted that Kruk was ordered held on $10,000 bond or $5,000 bail, and must return to court on July 30. Kruk faces between 5 and 15 years behind bars if convicted.
“Every New Yorker should feel secure about the people they hire to work in their homes,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. “In this case, the victims were merely asking for a repair of their heating and air conditioning units, but instead found themselves fighting for their lives. If not for the persistence of these victims and the investigative work of our DEC investigators and the Queens District Attorney’s Office, the mystery surrounding these victims’ ailments and the criminal conduct outlined in this indictment may never have come to light.”