Doctor Suspected In New York Gas Blast Dies - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

7/16/06-NEW YORK

Doctor Suspected In New York Gas Blast Dies

Workers clean up debris Tuesday at the site of an explosion, fire and building collapse in New York. Workers clean up debris Tuesday at the site of an explosion, fire and building collapse in New York.

The doctor suspected of blowing up his town house rather than allowing his ex-wife to benefit from its sale has died, nearly a week after suffering injuries in the blast, a hospital spokeswoman said Sunday.

Dr. Nicholas Bartha, 66, died late Saturday, said Mary Halston, an administrator at New York Presbyterian Hospital.

Police had been unable to speak to Bartha after the explosion because of his condition, but authorities have said they were investigating whether the doctor caused the July 10 explosion rather than sell the town house as part of a divorce judgment favoring his ex-wife.

The physician, who lived and worked in the four-story landmark on Manhattan's upscale Upper East Side, was the lone occupant during the blast. It cast fireballs into the sky above the neighborhood and leveled the building.

Investigators have confirmed that someone tampered with a gas line leading into the basement, and Bartha's ex-wife said she received an e-mail from him shortly before the explosion warning she would be "transformed from gold digger to ash and rubbish digger."

"I always told you I will leave the house only if I am dead," the e-mail said.

The man's next-door neighbors sued him Friday, claiming the explosion damaged their cooperative apartment and forced them to leave it. They also named the Consolidated Edison utility as a defendant, accusing it of failing to have property safety devices.

Con Ed has said it does not comment on pending litigation.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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