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Report: Lead Deal Averts Prison Term

Friday, September 5, 2014

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A  Florida landlord who had been facing decades in prison for lead-paint violations has reached a new deal with prosecutors that may give him probation only, reports say.

Michael Moshe Shimsoni, 56, of Tierre Verde, FL, was charged last summer with backdating seven tenant agreements he submitted to a federal grand jury indicating that he had disclosed lead-paint hazards—a charge that carries 20 years in prison.

"The documents produced by the defendant were intended to deceive the [U.S. Environmental Protection Agency] into believing that the defendant had been complying with federal law," according to a plea agreement filed in July 2013  in U.S. District Court in Tampa, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Michael Moshe Shimshoni
YouTube / ABC Action News

Indicted last year on charges of falsifying federal lead-paint disclosures, landlord Michael Shimshoni has cut a deal that averts prison, reports say.

Shimshoni had become locally notorious for his code violations, but federal authorities became involved after investigators found lead paint chips on the ground and in the soil of apartments he owned, the news outlet reported.

Superceding Indictment

In December, a superceding indictment charged Shimshoni with four counts of failing to provide federal lead notices to his tenants and two counts of falsifying U.S. Environmental Protection Agency records during a federal investigation.

Shimsoni signed a plea deal on July 8 and was scheduled to finalize the agreement at a hearing Aug. 19 but notified the court hours before the hearing that he had changed his mind, the St. Petersburg Tribune reports.

New Deal

Now, reports say, Shimsoni has resurfaced with a new agreement that will allow him to plead guilty to a lesser charge that could end in probation.

"We're very happy with" the agreement, defense attorney George Tragos told the Tampa Bay Times this week. "He believes it's fair and just."

Lead Paint

A tenant of Shimshoni shows a local television station the condition of the lead paint in her St. Petersburg apartment. The landlord has paid tens of thousands of dollars in local nuisance fines for criminal activity around his properties.

Under terms of the new agreement, Shimshoni would repay the EPA $50,000 for removing and replacing lead-contaminated soil around several of his apartment properties. He would not admit to falsifying records.

Prosecutors declined to comment on the case.

'Bad Apple'

Shimsoni and his company Affordable Realty have been a chronic irritant to authorities in St. Petersburg, FL, where is company is linked to more than 120 properties. Local news outlets report that he has paid more than $40,000 in nuisance fines related to criminal activity at his properties.

In March, a City Council member named Shimsoni as an example of a "bad apple" landlord whose properties were chronically in trouble.


Tagged categories: EPA; Health and safety; Housing; Laws and litigation; Lead; Lead paint abatement; Maintenance + Renovation; North America

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