Oceans

Ocean Landlord Fined $2,500 | New Haven Independent

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Aizenberg, defense attorney Rosenberg, and prosecutor Coyne in court Tuesday.

One of New Haven’s largest landlords was hit with $2,500 more in court-ordered fines after pleading guilty to another round of city housing code violations.

That’s the latest legal development involving the local megalandlord Ocean Management, which through its affiliates controls well over 1,000 mostly low-income apartments across the city.

In a third-floor courtroom at 121 Elm St. Tuesday early afternoon, Ocean Management principal Shmuel Aizenberg pleaded guilty to a total of 10 different housing code violations — all of which have now been fixed — at two of his company’s New Haven rental properties.

As Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Maura Kehoe Coyne explained to the court on Tuesday, the factual basis” for these violations stemmed from city Livable City Initiative (LCI) inspections that found holes in the bathroom ceiling, a leaking bathroom ceiling, and loose and falling ceiling tiles in the bathroom of the first-floor apartment at 87 Willis St.

They also came from separate LCI inspections that found a damp, bulging and badly stained bedroom ceiling, a ceiling in danger of collapse, loose kitchen ceiling tiles, a bathroom ceiling with mold throughout, a bathroom ceiling in danger of collapse, and defective gutters, among other issues, at the first-floor apartment at 191 Ferry St.

All the violations have been abated,” Coyne told state Superior Court Judge Juliett Crawford.

Since all of these issues have now been fixed, the prosecutor continued, the state offered Aizenberg a plea deal whereby he pleaded guilty to 10 different counts of violating state statute 7 – 148c(1), and then agreed to pay $250 per violation.

That statute is a generic section of state law that empowers municipalities to enforce regulations by issuing warnings, citations, and penalties of up to $250 per violation.

After Coyne and defense attorney David Rosenberg detailed the plea deal, New Haven state housing court clerk Bill Pitt asked Aizenberg about each of the 10 housing-code-violation counts across these two properties.

Count 4 is a violation of Connecticut General Statute 7 – 148. How do you plead?” Pitt asked.

Guilty,” Aizenberg replied.

Count 5 is a violation of Connecticut General Statute 7 – 148. How do you plead?” Pitt asked.

Guilty,” Aizenberg replied.

And so on.

Do you agree with what the prosecutor said?” Crawford asked Aizenberg. Do you agree with what Coyne said you failed to do”?

Yes,” Aizenberg said.

Crawford then accepted Aizenberg’s pleas and applied the $250-per-violation fine, for a total of $2,500 owed.

The finding of guilty is entered,” the judge said.

This isn’t the first time Aizenberg has found himself pleading guilty to housing-code violations and agreeing to pay fines after being prosecuted on the criminal docket of New Haven housing court.

In October 2021, Aizenberg pleaded guilty to two such housing-code violations at two different Ocean-controlled properties in New Haven. He then paid a total of $500 in fines for those violations.

In May of this year, Aizenberg pleaded guilty to 15 housing-code violations at three different Ocean-controlled properties in New Haven. He then paid a total of $3,750 in fines for those violations.

Click here to read a previous Independent story about how and why LCI-detected housing code violations can escalate to the point of criminal prosecution. Click here to read about Aizenberg’s critique of LCI after a court appearance last year in which he accused the city agency of communicating poorly with landlords about what needed to be fixed when.

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