An L.A. landlord who's alleged to have illegally converted a triplex into a crammed 44-unit apartment building has been slapped with criminal charges by city prosecutors, the Los Angeles Times reported.
John Callaghan put tenants' lives at risk by not installing proper electrical wiring and enough smoke detectors and fire extinguishers, prosecutors said in a 53-count indictment.
The tenants had filed a complaint against Callaghan to the Los Angeles Housing Department in April 2011. When the agency found violations on the property (pictured), the city handed eviction notices to the tenants, telling them to vacate because of safety concerns.
The tenants' lawyers said that the 44 units -- infested with cockroaches and lacking sufficient heat -- had tiny shared bathrooms and kitchen spaces that were illegally installed, according to the Times. The tenants were paying "as much as $500 per unit" and were illegally required to clean common areas, the lawyers added.
Last December, the Housing Department ordered Callaghan to vacate the units and pay for the relocation of the tenants. In January, the city council voted to foot the money, which totaled $317,000. The Housing Department has filed a lien against Callaghan's property to recover the funds, the Times reported.
According to a press release from the city attorney's office, Callaghan faces a 53-count misdemeanor case and could face up to a $1,000 fine and six months in jail for each violation. The charges against Callaghan also stem from another property in Highland Park, in which he allegedly created 14 rental units from a single-family residence.
His arraignment is scheduled for July 31st.
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