Judge clears air-conditioning installer accused of poisoning family
The owner of an air conditioning installation company was cleared Monday of charges that he vindictively poisoned a Queens family and their dog.
Yuriy Kruk, 48 — who faced up to 15 years in prison if convicted of allegedly planting mercury in a cooling unit in the the Jamaica Estates home of Roman Pinkhasov and his family — was found not guilty by a judge who called the prosecution’s case weak.
“This is a case in which there was no direct evidence presented of the defendant’s guilt. The people rely solely on circumstantial evidence,” said Supreme Court Justice Richard Buchter.
The judge acknowledged that the toxic metal — which prosecutors said sickened the family for years, and even killed the family pooch — was found in the home’s AC unit after Kruk replaced it in July 2015. But the evidence wasn’t strong enough to conclude Kruk was responsible, he said.
“The evidence presented showed mercury was found in a unit in the second floor and the attic. However other workmen had access to the second floor unit for hours and the first floor vent was vulnerable to tampering and contamination,” Buchter said.
“Under these circumstances the law of this court is compelled to render a verdict of not guilty,” he ruled.
Outside of court, Kruk, who owns the air conditioning firm A+ HVAC, smiled and said he planned to, “Go back to work.”
The verdict came after a two-week non-jury trial in which Kruk faced charges of attempted assault and endangering public health, safety or environment.
Last week, the trial took a bizarre turn when prosecutors asked Kruk questions about Russian politics.
After the verdict, Kruk’s lawyer Marvyn Kornberg slammed prosecutors. “The people should investigate a whole lot better than they did in this case before they bring charges,” the defense lawyer said.
“You know The People are scraping the bottom of the barrel when they have to ask the defendant questions about Putin and the KGB,” Kornberg said.
During the trial, all three family members testified about how they had been sickened and suffered from health problems.
Olga Yurgayeva, Pinkhasov’s wife, said, “I had nausea. I had vertigo. When I was walking I couldn’t feel my legs.”
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