3 Charged in Fatal S.F. Blast
Federal authorities Thursday charged two men and a woman with illegally manufacturing fireworks that caused an explosion and fire at an industrial park, killing at least eight people.
U.S. Atty. Joseph Russoniello said Wayne Quan, 28, and his sister, Laureen Quan, 25, were arrested by federal agents, and Steven Leong, 28, turned himself in.
All were arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Claudia Wilken, and Leong was freed on $50,000 bail.
A fourth suspected member of the operation, Thomas Cuyos, 28, was killed in the April 4 blast.
They allegedly operated a clandestine fireworks factory at Bay View Industrial Park on the southeastern rim of the city. The huge warehouse containing a maze of tiny businesses, as well as the fireworks operation, blew up and triggered a huge fire.
Nolan Florita, 26, who is missing and presumed dead, was helping Cuyos in the Bay View operation at the time of the explosion, according to court statements.
Russoniello said investigators may never know exactly what touched off the explosion.
“I think the best evidence at this point is that the point of origin and the point of ignition was at this place,” Russoniello said.
The Quans and Leong are charged with violating federal explosives laws, which carry a maximum punishment of 15 years in prison and a $500,000 fine, Russoniello said.
No Murder Charges
He said federal law does not permit murder or other more serious charges as a result of the deaths because there is no evidence of intentional explosion. However, he said that local authorities might be able to bring separate state charges.
The federal prosecutor also said the investigation is continuing into the possible role of others, such as financiers.
Leong, questioned by agents on April 8, said he and Cuyos had built a machine to make M-80 barrel bombs, and were involved in a pyrotechnic company that owed its investors more than $100,000, federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Agent John Ross said.