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Two Philadelphia businessman are under house arrest for collapse of waterfront nightclub pier

Two businessmen were sentenced to house arrest for ignoring warnings that a pier under a waterfront nightclub was about to collapse seven years ago, killing three people and injuring dozens more.

Eli Karetny, operator of the Heat nightclub, was sentenced to nine to 18 months of house arrest followed by probation and pier owner Michael Asbell was sentenced to 11 to 22 months of house arrest plus probation.

Karetny pleaded guilty last month to 43 counts of reckless endangerment - one for each of the club patrons and rescuers who were injured in the May 2000 collapse. Asbell pleaded no contest on those same counts, one count of conspiracy and one count of risking catastrophe.

Prosecutors said inspectors had repeatedly warned Asbell and Karetny of the impending danger, including on the day of the disaster. They asked Judge Sheila Woods-Skipper to sentence the two to a minimum of three years in prison.

Defense attorneys portrayed Asbell and Karetny as businessmen of good character who never would have opened up the nightclub if they knew the pier could collapse.

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