A former Hudson Valley restaurateur has been sentenced to prison for intentionally burning down his restaurant and endangering the lives of his wife and first responders.
Orange County resident Zef Gjurashaj, age 60, of Newburgh, was sentenced Wednesday, March 1.
Gjurashaj, who was convicted by a jury in September 2022, was sentenced to 22 years to life in prison for burning down Andiamo’s Restaurant, which was located at 5025 Route 9W, in the Town of Newburgh in 2017, the Orange County DA's Office said.
Prior to the trial, Gjurashaj’s co-defendant and the wife of his nephew, Westchester County resident Marina Gjurashaj, age 38, of Yonkers, pleaded guilty to arson conspiracy for her role in setting the fire, court documents show.
As part of her plea agreement, Marina Gjurashaj testified against Zef Gjurashaj. During the sentencing proceedings Executive Assistant District Attorney Stewart Rosenwasser argued that Zef Gjurashaj had exploited Marina’s immigration status and history as a domestic violence victim, to induce her to aid him in the arson.
An investigation into the fire revealed that on Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017, at the direction of Zef Gjurashaj, Marina Gjurashaj intentionally set fire to the building by spraying an ignitable liquid on the floor of the kitchen, opening the valve to the propane line, and lighting the liquid.
The subsequent fire was of such ferocity that in addition to decimating the building, it put the first responding firefighters, as well as Zef Gjurashaj’s wife, who was present at the time of the fire, at grave risk of death, the DA's Office said.
In addition to the 20 years to life, Jef Gjurashai has also been sentenced to concurrent terms in prison for the additional charges of conspiracy, reckless endangerment insurance fraud, and criminal tax fraud which could add up to an additional 48 years in prison.
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