Buildings can flood for a number of reasons; hurricanes, winter snow storms and snowmelt are all common culprits.
However, when Chicago’s Trump International Hotel and Tower flooded last February, it wasn’t a result of the weather — the cause was a little more intentional.
According to the Chicago Tribune, a group of three friends, angry that they’d been cut off from drinking at the hotel’s Sixteen bar and restaurant, opened up a fifth-floor water valve, creating a flood — and hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage.
At the Leighton Criminal Courthouse on January 21, a Cook County judge threw out charges against two of the men involved in the flooding after the third co-defendant pled guilty to a felony count of criminal damage to property in exchange for a probation sentence.
The Tribune reported that Benjamin Nitch, 26, who allegedly opened the water valve, accepted his sentence of two years’ probation and 480 hours of community service. Nitch was also banned from Trump Tower. Judge Thaddeus Wilson then acquitted Carl Koenemann, 26, and Daniel Maradei, 25, of any charges. In their testimony, the three men revealed they’d been drinking for much of the day.
After Nitch allegedly opened the valve, water burst from a pressurized pipe at a rate of 250 gallons per minute. Two elevators were destroyed in the incident, and the front lobby’s Italian marble floors sustained damage as well.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the incident resulted in a total of $700,000 in water damage to the luxury hotel.
Despite the fact that the hotel has 186 security cameras, there was no footage that showed who opened the water valve. Koenemann and Maradei told police they thought Nitch opened the valve, but didn’t actually see him do it.
“I think it’s clear that there is no direct evidence that these two defendants did anything illegal in that stairwell,” Judge Wilson said after two hours of testimony in court.