Owner of Mexican school sentenced to 31 years for deadly 2017 earthquake collapse


The owner of a private Mexican school has been sentenced to 31 years in prison for manslaughter for her building’s collapse during a 2017 earthquake that killed 26 people, including 19 students.

Monica Garcia Villegas, former owner, and director of the Enrique Rebsamen school in Mexico City was cited for building an illegal apartment on top of the school, violating building codes and making the structure unsafe, Mexican News Daily reported.

Villegas was also ordered to pay the equivalent of $5,800 in fines and $18,900 to each of the victims.

She was found guilty last month and sentenced this week, according to the report, originally published in the Spanish-language newspaper Milenio.

The judge determined that the illegal addition to the building added extra weight and made the building unstable during the 7.1-magnitude quake on Sept. 19, 2017, leading to the collapse.

Villegas, known as Miss Monica to her students, fled after the fatal incident, but was arrested at a Mexico City restaurant in May 2019 after her brother turned her in for the 5-million-pesos reward — the equivalent of nearly $235,000, the outlets said.