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April 28, 2004
 Adam Radinsky, Deputy City Attorney, (310) 458-88327

The Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office this week filed a civil lawsuit against three men for waging a months-long campaign of daily harassment against a woman who has lived in her rent-controlled apartment for more than 20 years. The men—Marshall Robert Burnett, Daniel Kolodziejski, and L.T. Belton—bought the four-unit building at 2710 Arizona Avenue in January 2004. The only apartment that was occupied at the time was by the woman, who is disabled and pays $422 per month under rent control. The men are accused of conspiring to frighten her into vacating her apartment in order to increase the property value of the building. 

The suit charges that the men installed Belton as the “manager” in the apartment next door to the woman’s, for the sole purpose of making her life miserable. Belton’s alleged actions include: 

  • calling the woman profane and insulting names

  • threatening to burn down the building while the woman was inside

  • flooding her kitchen floor with a hose from outside

  • regularly pounding on her walls and slamming doors late at night

  • regularly standing outside her door or window for long periods of time

  • breaking into her private locked storage area

Defendants Burnett and Kolodziejski are both licensed realtors. They are also accused of refusing to perform needed repairs to the woman’s apartment; and of refusing to accept her rent payment and then claiming that she hadn’t paid rent.

The city filed the case in Santa Monica Superior Court. It was brought under the local Tenant Harassment Ordinance. If found liable, the defendants could each be fined up to $1,000.00 for each incident of harasssment. (More than 20 incidents are alleged.) The city also seeks punitive damages which are for the purpose of punishment and are based in part on the defendants’ net worth and the nature of the wrongdoing.

“This case shows the depths to which some people will go to try to get their low-rent tenants out,” said Deputy City Attorney Adam Radinsky. “The City of Santa Monica will not tolerate the abuse of tenants for the sake of a quick profit.” 

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