From the annals of Small law: A tough Judge in Cleveland is getting tough on real estate investment thugs. Judge Raymond Pianka of the Cleveland housing court, imposed a $13 million dollar fine on two inter-related real estate investment companies. This is from Sandra Livingston's account at Cleveland.com:
"In a pair of blistering decisions, [Judge] Pianka fined Interstate Investment Group $11.9 million and Paramount Land Holdings more than $1 million. The cases involve major violations at eight properties and less significant ones at five others. The earliest complaints date to January 2008.
[Judge] Pianka also criticized the city of Cleveland for recommending vastly lower fines, and the companies for their offer to contribute no more than $100,000 toward the resolution of their property violations.
In the Interstate decision, [Judge] Pianka wrote: 'Defendant's (and the City's) proposed sentences would allow Defendant to treat its neglect of its properties and the laws of the City as a mere cost of doing business and send the message to others that they too may benefit from wholesale disregard for the laws of the City.'
Pianka wrote that both companies are in the for-profit business of buying and selling distressed property without any intention to repair it. [Judge Pianka] also said that in addition, Interstate and Paramount had each failed to pay six-figure penalties for being no-shows in several housing court cases, and failing to pay property taxes. Conditions at some houses were so bad that the city demolished them, Pianka wrote, but has yet to be reimbursed for the costs."
This is a great story about a good Judge getting angry at exactly the right target, absentee land owners snapping up distressed properties and letting bad get worse. Who pays, the taxpayers and neighbors who have to deal withe the deterioration, loss of neighborhood property values and crime.