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New Jersey Building Owner Pleads Guilty To Charges From Deadly Fire

(credit: CBS 2)

Gavel (file/credit: CBS 2)

PATERSON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The owner of a multi-unit apartment building in Paterson, N.J., where four people died in a fire in 2010 reached a plea deal that will keep her out of prison Wednesday.

Florence Brown, 63, was facing four counts of manslaughter, and could have received 40 years in prison if convicted. But The Record reported that Brown pleaded guilty Wednesday to an amended count of causing widespread injury “by failing to make necessary repair.”

She now faces only probation as a penalty, the newspaper reported. The length of her probation will be determined when she is sentenced Feb. 1.

The charges against Brown stemmed from a June 2010 fire at the three-story building in Paterson. Passaic County prosecutors said it occurred because she did not make necessary electrical repairs.

Nine people lived in the building at the time. Two men – Mark Smith, 46, and Darrell Hammerick, 51 – and two women – Betty Johnson, 27, and Latita Buckerham, of an unknown age – died at the scene, the newspaper reported.

Authorities later ruled that the fire was caused by an electrical overload due to faulty wiring, the newspaper reported.

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