Judge fines Oakland landlords $460,000
By Jeremy Boren
Published: Wednesday, May 28, 2008
A Pittsburgh judge said he fined two Oakland landlords more than $460,000 today because they neglected years of building and fire code violations that put residents in danger.
"They put their tenants at risk," said District Justice Gene Ricciardi of the South Side. "They've really damaged the reputation of the Oakland community. These citations were very serious. We're not just talking about a cracked sidewalk here or some overgrown weeds."
Ricciardi fined Jason Cohen, 27, of Mt. Lebanon, $200,000 on 10 counts of city code violations including broken fire escapes, inoperable fire alarms and improper fire doors at his 42-unit Parkview Estates complex.
A minor fire broke out in Cohen's Parkview Avenue building May 16. Firefighters who were there conducting an inspection based on numerous complaints from tenants found the first-floor alarms did not work and many apartment did not have smoke detectors.
The city stationed a firefighter there overnight to monitor the building as Cohen scrambled to correct the problems.
In a separate case, Ricciardi fined Atallah Khalil, of Carrick, $260,107.50 for similar fire code violations on a 12-unit apartment building he owns at 343 McKee Place.
Both buildings house primarily students attending the University of Pittsburgh. They are two among many examples of dilapidated student housing in Oakland and South Oakland near campus.
Ricciardi gave Cohen six weeks to remedy code violations in a second apartment at 331 McKee Place, next door to Khalil's property. The two McKee Place buildings look identical.
The fines must be paid by June 30, according to Riccardi's order.
Neither Cohen nor Khalil could be reached for comment. Both are expected to appeal.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.