Ghost Ship Warehouse Tenant, Creative Director Plead Not Guilty to 36 Counts of Involuntary Manslaughter

Two men charged with 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter in connection with a deadly Oakland warehouse fire pleaded not guilty Wednesday.

Ghost Ship warehouse master tenant Derick Almena, 47, and Max Harris, the warehouse's 27-year-old creative director, have been in custody in lieu of $750,000 bail.

Almena and Harris are each charged for their roles in a deadly fire during a crowded dance party at the warehouse at 1309 31st Ave. in Oakland's Fruitvale district on Dec. 2 and could face 39 years in state prison if they're convicted.

The pair's pretrial hearing is slated for Nov. 7 and their preliminary hearing on Nov. 13.

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley said when she filed the charges against Almena and Harris on June 5 that their actions were "reckless" and created a high risk of death for the people who attended the dance party, for which Almena and Harris had failed to get permits from the city of Oakland.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Brad Seligman has denied motions by PG&E and warehouse owner Chor Ng to be removed from civil lawsuits that have been filed on behalf of families of 31 of the 36 fire victims. 

Among the other defendants who are named in the civil lawsuits are Almena, the city of Oakland, Alameda County and the state of California.

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