Prosecutors and the attorney for a Portland landlord met this week without reaching an agreement about a possible plea deal that could involve criminal charges against the landlord for a fire in November that killed six people at one of his properties.

Attorney Matthew Nichols, who represents landlord Gregory Nisbet, said he expects talks to continue next week with a tentative deadline of next Friday to decide.

“I think we will know the end of next week whether we are able to reach an agreement or not,” Nichols said Friday evening. “Each side laid out their proposal, but we are continuing to talk next week.”

Nichols has said Nisbet, who owned the two-family building at 20-24 Noyes St. in Portland where the fire occurred Nov. 1, will not accept a plea deal that includes a manslaughter charge.

Deputy Attorney General Lisa Marchese, who is negotiating with Nichols along with Cumberland County District Attorney Stephanie Anderson, would not discuss Friday evening what possible charges are being discussed.

But the fact that Marchese is still involved in the talks suggests that prosecutors are still considering bringing as many as six felony manslaughter charges against Nisbet.

By state law, the Maine Attorney General’s Office handles homicide cases, including manslaughter charges. Anderson’s office would prosecute any lesser offense if charges are brought. The soonest either office could present evidence before the Cumberland County grand jury to seek a criminal indictment would be the beginning of July.

“I would hope to know one way or another by the end of next week,” Marchese said. “But I just don’t know.”

Anderson could not be reached for comment Friday evening.

The families of four of the six young people who died have sued Nisbet. They have accused him of running the Noyes Street building as a rooming house, where residents rented individual rooms from the landlord, and that an emergency exit was impassable. Fire officials also have said that none of the smoke detectors was working at the time.

If prosecutors in Cumberland County bring criminal charges against Nisbet, it could set a precedent for prosecutors in York County considering similar charges against another landlord for a fatal fire in Biddeford.

In the Biddeford case, the families of James Ford and Michael Moore filed a civil lawsuit in York County Superior Court on May 28 against Nielsen Clark, who owned the apartment building at 35 Main St. in Biddeford that was destroyed by a fire that was ruled arson. The men killed as a result of the Sept. 18 fire were trapped in their third-floor apartment and had no way to escape, authorities have said.

In the Biddeford case, Dylan Collins, 18, of Biddeford, has been charged with murder for Ford’s and Moore’s deaths. Collins’ case remains pending.

Scott Dolan can be contacted at 791-6304 or at:

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