FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 23, 2004
Contact: Carol Abrams (212) 863-5176
Landlord Sentenced to 10 Days in Jail for Building Conditions Unfit for Human Habitation
Harlem Tenants Suffer Through Leaks, Fire Hazards, and Worse
Litigators for the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) succeeded in getting jail time for Peter Golia, the managing agent of 2649 Frederick Douglass Boulevard, Manhattan. Housing Commissioner Shaun Donovan today announced that Golia has been arrested at 8:50am this morning and was transported to the Tombs Correctional facility where he will begin a 10 day sentence for criminal contempt and up to 10 additional days in jail until his $1,000 contempt fine has been paid. Housing Court Judge Gerald Lebovits found managing agent Peter Golia, owner Stacy Rosenblatt, and 2649 Frederick Douglass Realty Corp. (the "Corporation") guilty of civil and criminal contempt for failing to correct the Housing Maintenance Code violations in 2649 Frederick Douglass Boulevard. The Judge also awarded HPD $151,750 in civil penalties based on the failure of Rosenblatt, Golia, and the Corporation to correct the violations.
"Landlords have a legal obligation to provide safe and decent apartments to their tenants," said Housing Commissioner Shaun Donovan. "HPD will sue landlords who flout the law and seek maximum penalties. A building manager like Peter Golia deserves jail time for letting his tenants suffer through conditions unfit for human habitation."
"I would like to thank Deputy Sheriffs Scali and Rodriguez for their swift action on this case," said Finance Commissioner Martha E. Stark. "Our Sheriffs routinely arrest dead-beat dads, tax cheats and delinquent landlords in order to collect money that is usually long over due. We hope these enforcement mechanisms will force Mr. Golia and others like him to improve living conditions for their tenants."
After inspecting the 13-unit apartment building at 2649 Frederick Douglass Boulevard, the Department of Buildings and HPD issued vacate orders in July 2003 because conditions in the building were dangerous to life, detrimental to the health and safety of the occupants and others, and unfit for human habitation. The HPD order cited cascading water leaks at all stories and in all apartments, exposed electrical wires, a defective and leaky roof, a defective heating system, no enclosure for the boiler, an illegal occupancy in the cellar, defective means of egress (because the stairs were in danger of collapse), accumulation of construction rubbish throughout the building, and rubbish in the rear yard obstructing the second means of egress (the fire escape). The HPD order required the immediate correction of all of these conditions.
The following month, HPD's Housing Litigation Division litigated against the building's ownership and management. A Judge ordered owner Stacy Rosenblatt, managing agent Peter Golia, and 2649 Frederick Douglass Realty Corp. (the "Corporation") to repair the conditions cited in the vacate orders within seven days. HPD's Division of Code Enforcement subsequently reinspected the building and found that the conditions cited in the vacate order had not been corrected within the time provided in the Judge's order.
HPD filed a motion seeking civil and criminal contempt and additional civil penalties against Rosenblatt, Golia, and the Corporation. The owners tried, but failed, to have this proceeding dismissed. Abbott Gorin, Lynette Parker and Deborah Rand of HPD prosecuted the contempt and civil penalty proceeding. On December 22nd, Judge Gerald Lebovits found Rosenblatt, Golia and the Corporation guilty of civil and criminal contempt for failing to correct the conditions that caused the vacate order. Judge Lebovits directed Rosenblatt, Golia, and the Corporation to pay fines of $250 each for civil contempt and $1000 each for criminal contempt. He sentenced Golia to 10 days in jail for criminal contempt and up to 10 additional days in jail until his $1000 criminal contempt fine has been paid. He also awarded HPD $151,750 in civil penalties based on the failure of Rosenblatt, Golia, and the Corporation to correct the violations.
The City's Law Department is currently prosecuting separate criminal proceedings against Rosenblatt, Golia, and 2649 Frederick Douglass Realty Corp. The Law Department is prosecuting Golia for violation of the Unlawful Eviction Law and Rosenblatt and 2649 Frederick Douglass Realty Corp. for violation of the Building Code.
The three families who were living in the building at the time of the Vacate Order have not yet been able to return to their apartments. The tenants have filed a Civil Case against their landlord.
HPD is the nation's largest municipal housing preservation and development agency. A major responsibility of the agency is to encourage the preservation of affordable housing through education, outreach, loan programs and enforcement of housing quality standards.
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