Update below

A Flatbush pastor is facing manslaughter and other charges in connection with a 2014 fire that killed a man in the illegal apartments above his unpermitted storefront church. The Daily News reports that Luckner Lorient, 78, was cuffed on Tuesday night at Miami International Airport as he was returning from a trip to Haiti.

The November 19th, 2014 fire at 1434 Flatbush Avenue left 23-year-old security guard Jeff Frederic dead, and injured 14 others. Lorient's family and iterations of his church, Eglise Baptiste Clarte Celeste, have owned the building since 1980, according to property records. The city cited them as far back as the early 1990s for running an unsanctioned public gathering place, and for subdividing the two apartments on the second and third floors.

Two months prior to the fire, inspectors ticketed Lorient for building two illegal apartments in the basement of the building, and for subdivided apartments upstairs, fining him $12,000 for the former. Lorient currently has 99 open building violations in all, including ones for un-permitted facade work and an unlit sidewalk shed following the fire. He owes the city $84,330 in unpaid fines for 30 Buildings Department violations, and a great deal more for 69 open Department of Housing Preservation and Development violations.

Lorient was arraigned this afternoon on charges of manslaughter, negligent homicide, reckless endangerment, assault, and endangering the welfare of a child. He was held on a $2 million bond, and faces as many as 15 years in prison on the manslaughter charge.

At the time of the fire, Lorient blamed his tenants for subletting, claiming one tenant had moved in 21 people.

"Some people who are not tenants of his basically took over the property," Steve Okenwa, lawyer for Lorient told the News. "He was trying to evict them. They would not allow him access to the apartments."

Lorient's wife Marie called the arrest "shocking," and told the tabloid she knew nothing about it.

Victims of the fire and their families are suing Lorient, and they say he is at fault.

A lawyer representing one survivor told the News that the building lacked fire escapes, alarms, and extinguishers, as well as insurance, and an attorney for Frederic's family said that the heating and electrical systems were faulty, and that a portable heater sparked the blaze. In March of 2014, records show that a 311 caller complained of illegal electrical work in the building that left exposed wires, caused a "loud electrical pop," and disrupted the functioning of the boiler.

A woman who answered the phone at a number listed for the church said, "I don't know, the person, she's not here," and hung up.

On Facebook, a parishioner wrote, "French Speaking Baptist Church and friends, our very own Pasteur Luckner was arrested yesterday!!!! It has to do with the fire in 2013 that claimed the life of one of his parishioners. I cannot believe he's guilty of anything. Just can't!"

Update 4:20 p.m.:

The Brooklyn DA's Office sent this in a press release:

The second and third floor apartments were designed to be one-family railroad apartments, but had allegedly been illegally converted by Lorient into SROs (single-room occupancy), with six separate rooms on the second floor and five separate rooms on the first floor. A total of 23 tenants occupied those 11 rooms.


It is alleged that Lorient filed false documents asserting he was no longer operating the building as an illegal SRO, but after inspections [confirmed] his assertions he quickly converted the building back to the illegal SRO.

Furthermore, it is alleged, because of the conversion there were power strips and multiple extension cords in every room, and stretched into hallways, and electrical outages due to overloads were a common occurrence - which Lorient knew because of notices of violations received from HPD. In fact, according to the investigation, nearly every room had a television and refrigerator and many had air conditioners, space heaters, microwaves, cell phone chargers, laptops and hot plates - seriously comprising the electrical system. A tenant on the second floor had an electric water cooler. The overloaded system caused a wire to the water cooler to overheat and erupt.

In addition, the building failed to offer two means of egress, as required by law, and the single fire escape for the building was inoperable.