Former Ghost Ship master tenant Derick Almena has received a 12-year sentence, after pleading guilty to 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter over the fire that broke out in the Oakland warehouse, which took the lives of 36 people. Despite this sentence, Almena is not expected to spend any time in correctional facilities, and will likely face one-and-a-half years at home with an ankle bracelet, followed by three years of probation. His previous trial resulted in a hung jury back in 2019, which led to this retrial.
Almena has already spent time in jail, but was released last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During his time in jail, he received credit for time served while awaiting trial and good behavior. The former master tenant was the only one convicted of any wrong-doing, his assistant Max Harris was acquitted in 2019, while the owner of the building, Chor Ng, faced no charges. Although an investigation of the warehouse discovered it was illegally outfitted as a living space, Ng, who is affiliated with 17 different properties across the San Francisco Bay Area, denied that anyone lived on the premise.
Alameda County Superior Court Judge Trina Thompson remarked that “no family member will find this (ruling) in any way acceptable, and I accept that responsibility,” in response to Almena’s conviction. The family of fire victim Sarah Hoda also released a statement critical of this decision.
“This lenient, slap-on-the-wrist sentence is vastly inappropriate for the crimes Derick Almena committed,” Hoda’s family read to the court via teleconference. “Upholding the DA’s irresponsible plea recommendation would shortchange 36 victims and their families.”
Photo Credit: Kellie MacDougall