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Landlord Gets Probation for Lead Fraud

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

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A Massachusetts property manager has been sentenced to five years of probation after he pleaded guilty to falsifying two lead inspection reports for his properties, one of which was rented to a woman and two young children.

Dwayne Johnson, 46, of Springfield, pleaded guilty Thursday (Sept. 24) in Hampden Superior Court to two counts of Uttering False or Forged Records, according to a statement from Commonwealth of Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.

According to the statement, Johnson was indicted by a Hampden County Grand Jury in November 2014 and arraigned in December of last year. Following his plea, Judge Jeffrey Kinder sentenced Johnson to five years of supervised probation.

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Property manager Dwayne Johnson admitted to submitting two falsified lead inspection compliance letters in order to receive government-funded rent assitance.

“This defendant falsified lead inspection compliance letters, so that properties he manages could receive government assistance,” Healey said in the statement.

“He put children at risk by falsifying a lead inspection report for a unit that was not in lead paint compliance and was being rented to a tenant with two young children.”

Two-Year Investigation

The attorney general’s office began its investigation in December 2013 after it was referred by the Department of Public Health, and specifically by the department’s Child Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, according to the statement.

Johnson admitted to submitting two falsified lead inspection compliance letters: one in November 2011 and another in October 2013. He wrote the letters so that two of his properties could receive HAP Housing government-funded assistance.

HAP Housing, according to the statement, is a regional administrator for the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development that administers the Section 8 affordable housing voucher program in the Springfield area.

If children under the age of 6 are living in a unit that has been deemed eligible to receive assistance, a landlord must submit paperwork showing that the properties have passed a lead paint inspection.

A licensed lead inspector allegedly signed both letters, according to the statement. However, HAP Housing and inspectors from the Department of Public Health’s lead program determined that both letters Johnson submitted were fraudulent.

'A Gross Error in Judgement'

Johnson’s attorney, David M. Hodge, had asked for a sentence of three years of probation, according to an article on MassLive.com. Hodge said that in 2011, the tenant who wanted to move in with her two young children was “absolutely desperate” and that Johnson made “a gross error in judgement,” according to the daily news website.

Under the terms of his sentence, Johnson must not manage property built prior to 1978 that has not been certified to be in lead compliance.

MassLive also said Johnson must pay medical bills for the children who were living at one of the properties if those children show signs of lead poison in the future. Johnson also must continue to receive counseling.

   

Tagged categories: Criminal acts; Government; Health and safety; Lead; Lead; Lead Disclosure Rule; Lead paint abatement

Comment from Guus van Wijk, (9/29/2015, 5:09 AM)

For the last 10-ish years I have been kind-of following the news regarding the lead issue and the court appearences of big lead paint producers. I never got it why the companies should be sued, while they never did something wrong law wise. We did not know better, but now we do. And the lead paint, being a primer and never a top coat would never lead to problems if the topcoat is intact. And this mainly were it goes wrong. A topcoat can stay well for mainy years, but should at least yearly be checked for cracks and blisters etc and be MAINTAINED (!!) and this is were it goes wrong : paint and maintenace cost money. But on the long run it will save you. They (home renters) left it too long and now all the lead paint need to be removed. At least now the right people are being sued : them who just are in for the money of rentals and do not care for the rest. The "Johnson´s" will have to pay the bill. A lot of childrens lifes have been damaged badly and I am sorry for that but it has learned us a lesson.


Comment from carl massaro, (9/29/2015, 6:59 AM)

I owned a led mine, I think the federal laws on all this , the fines, the inspections, are all crap. clean , wash , vacuum, and move on . This is just foolish. The man gave a woman a place to live, and then she bit his hand. Shame on her and her lawyers.


Comment from Guus van Wijk, (9/30/2015, 3:30 AM)

Clean, wash vacuum and some painting would have been exactly what the Johnsons of this world should do. BUT THEY DO NOT. Would you like to live in a house like that ?


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