Don't feel bad, Deutsche Bank — you may be sleazy, but you're not alone! Los Angeles has a long, messy history of rich goobs who profit off the unacceptable living conditions of their tenants.
In honor of your recent induction into the Slumlord Hall of Fame (otherwise known as the Landlord Hall of Shame), courtesy of L.A. City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, we'd like you to meet some of your fellow sleazeballs on the block. Many can't be here in person, as they're stuck in the slammer learning what it's like to fall asleep to the sound of a leaky pipe every night, but you can bet your fraudulent dollar they're here in spirit. The Weekly never forgets a slumlord!
Here's our Top Five. Ahem:
5. Dr. Milton Avol was a Beverly Hills shrink (of course he was) who spent a month in jail in 1987 for forcing renters to live in inhuman conditions. Far more satisfying was the additional month he was forced to live, under monitored house arrest, in one of his own vermin-infested apartments. Payback's a bitch, ain't it doc!
4. In 2009, Monica Hujazi, owner of the Waldorf Apartments in L.A.'s Pico-Union district, handed over a whopping $3.3 million to a total of 56 tenants who had withstood her building's intolerable state of ickiness for years. Among the victims of her sleaze were 25 childen — including a 12-year-old who suffered hundreds of bedbug bites — and one tenant who ended up with a carpetful of raw sewage. Oh, and cockroach infestations reportedly became “so overwhelming that roaches lodged themselves in the ears of sleeping tenants.” The scene was putrid enough for one veteran housing inspector to proclaim it the worst he'd ever seen. We'll hand it to Hujazi — she's hard to out-slum.
3. Unless you're the CIM Group! Otherwise known as “Hollywood's Richest Slumlord,” the company owned both a shopping empire and, formerly, some “derelict, Third World slum-style properties on the northwest corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Western Avenue, including an empty motel known as the Bon-Air and a small apartment building, both of which [looked] bombed-out.” Thank god for a YouTube video that surfaced, documenting the innards of their abominable properties, and shuttered the hellholes for good.
2. Taking the cake for most charges ever to be issued a single Los Angeles landlord, Vijaynand Sharma got 20 months in jail and $153,000 in fines for his 121 crimes against the renting population. (As a grand finale, a fire swept through his slummy, non-fireproof building, leaving dozens homeless.) Sharma skipped town, but karma (and the 5-0) soon caught up, and he was thrown in the slammer — despite his argument that he was merely “a victim of circumstances. So was Jesus Christ.” Good riddance.
1. As if two decades of letting his many properties rot (while dodging charges across multiple SoCal counties) wasn't enough, Sam Menlo's victims included the helpless elderly residents of a freaking nursing home. Thankfully, like Dr. Avol, Menlo was sentenced to live in one of his own disgusting buildings in Anaheim, where renters had previously held a strike to protest cockroaches, dirty pools and shit plumbing (pun intended). Once again, justice served — and it reportedly whipped Menlo into shape.
So, Deutsche CEO Josef Ackermann! Be forewarned: Just because your case is unprecedented, in that you've avoided getting your hands dirty by distancing yourself from your L.A. properties with a middleman, doesn't make you an exception to the rule. City officials 'round these parts don't take kindly to slumlords in high places.
Except, of course, when political ties exempt them from due process. Better get to work on some fat mayoral donations!