Search results for: "John Reiff"

1424 Carroll Street, Owned by Disbarred Bid-Rigging Attorney John Reiff

Property Address:  1424 Carroll Street, Baltimore, MD 21230

Property Owner:  Kona Properties, LLC, 3604 Eastern Avenue, Suite 300, Baltimore, MD 21224

Resident Agent for Kona Properties, LLC:  John Reiff, same address.  Note:  The address above listed for Kona Properties is also the same address as John Reiff’s former law firm, DeLaurentis Reiff & Reid.

City Council District and Contact:  District 10, Ed Reisinger

State Senator:  Verna Jones Rodwell

State Delegates:  Keith Haynes, Keiffer Mitchell Jr, Melvin Stukes

As you may recall, the owner of this property testified that he and his two law partners, Anthony DeLaurentis and Richard Turer, along with co-conspirators Harvey Nusbaum, Jack Stollof and Steven Berman rigged bids in public auctions in order limit the purchase price of tax liens — stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the City of Baltimore and from unsuspecting homeowners.

According to the Center for Public Integrity, the investors would bid on behalf of two companies connected to Bank of America and Bank Atlantic Bancorp.

In addition to these illegal deals, John Reiff is a slumlord “investor” who, through his shell LLC Kona Properties, owns blighted abandoned homes across Baltimore City. We think it’s time the Maryland Bar Association look into why he’s allowed to practice law, given his utter lack of ethics or regard for the law.

Update:  Thanks to an astute Twitter follower, we’re happy to report that John K Reiff was disbarred in 2011.

Update:  Anthony Delaurentis was also disbarred in December of 2011.

Here’s just one example of the properties John Reiff controls:

1424 Carroll Street

City of Chicago Posts Data on Problem Property Owners. Hey, So Do We!

Fantastic news, if you’re a tenant in Chicago — you now have the ability to see where the problem owners are, so you can avoid them. It’s like having your own Slumlordwatch, only this is sanctioned and recognized by the city.

What’s really interesting about Chicago’s ordinance is that it somewhat echoes one of the rules Vacants to Value started with — owners who were not in compliance with existing properties would be unable to purchase more, through the city, until their other properties were brought to code. From Chicago’s website:

Building owners who appear on the list will not be able to obtain business licenses, receive zoning changes, acquire city land or receive financial assistance like Tax Increment Financing (TIF), or obtain building permits not related to addressing their violations.

Unfortunately, Baltimore has all but disregarded its own rules, allowing people who are not in compliance to purchase more homes through their V2V auctions. For example, John Reiff. He’s been able to purchase 10 homes under his own name, and four under his shell company “Land Research Associates” since 2010. He also purchases homes at city tax sales, despite being disbarred for bid-rigging at other municipal auctions, and the deeds aren’t being recorded, shielding him and others who do the same from accountability. A sampling of Reiff’s tax sale purchases:

  • 1642 Lochwood Road, right of redemption foreclosed in 2012, yet the home is still receiving the homestead tax credit, and ownership information has not been updated.
  • 3037 Walbrook Avenue, purchased with another Reiff-affiliated shell company, ETS Maryland. Right of redemption was foreclosed in 2012, ownership information is not updated.
  • 1019 Darley Avenue, purchased by ETS Maryland. Right of redemption was foreclosed in 2012, ownership information is not updated.
  • 1677 Darley Avenue, purchased by ETS Maryland. Right of redemption was foreclosed in 2011, ownership information is not updated.
  • 505 S Bentalou Street, purchased by ETS Maryland. Right of redemption was foreclosed in 2011, ownership information is not updated.
  • 1805 E Federal Street, purchased by ETS Maryland. Right of redemption was foreclosed in 2012, ownership information is not updated.

What’s really shocking is that while ETS Maryland was purchasing city-owned properties, the city was filing receivership cases on ETS — 25 total open receivership cases, in fact, going back to 2008.

Then we come to Stanley Rochkind — a landlord who has been the defendant in hundreds of lead paint lawsuits and other housing violations, dating back to at least the 1980s. Not to mention, he owns dozens of blighted dilapidated homes under various business trusts, LLCs, and other shell companies. I was able to find 150 of them, though I believe there are many more.

Citizens need to be aware of who they’re doing business with — a home, even for a renter, is an investment. For most people, it’s their single-largest monthly payment. Many kudos to the City of Chicago for recognizing that taxpayers need to have all the tools possible to make good choices — and we’ll keep writing about Baltimore’s bad landlords until we’ve written about all of them.  Because for every John Reiff and Stanley Rochkind out there who don’t play by the rules, there are dozens of people who want to be responsible property owners, and we need to pave the way for them — a good first step would be putting the bad ones out of business.

 

 

Bad Data and Deed Transfers

One of the most difficult things to find when researching properties is the ownership information — sure, we have a wealth of databases available to us in Maryland, but when the data listed is incorrect, either due to a “clerical error” or a property owner not transferring the deed, things can get tricky.

Baltimore City is the only municipality in the state that self-reports its property transfer information to the State Department of Assessments and Taxation.  For this reason, it’s really important to look at many sources and do a lot more research than just looking in one or two places — particularly for mapping and writing about property ownership.

These properties were purchased in tax sales in Baltimore City, and the right of redemption was foreclosed on by the new owners. Because the new owners never transferred the property, as required by law, the ownership information in the state database is incorrect.  (Many thanks to RR for doing the research so I could illustrate this ongoing problem).

Property Addresses:

  • 5300 Maple Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21215
  • 5332 Maple Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21215
  • 3010 W Garrison Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21215

Property Owner (Actual):  ETS Maryland, 3604 Eastern Avenue, #400, Baltimore, MD 21224 (Charter has been forfeited, address is the same used by disbarred attorneys Delaurentis, Reiff, and Reid)

5300 Maple Avenue, Park Heights

5300 Maple Avenue

5332 Maple Avenue

5332 Maple Avenue

3010 W Garrison Avenue

3010 W Garrison Avenue

This property, 1819 W Fairmount, was also acquired in a tax sale by another shell company, this one controlled by John Reiff:

Property Owner (Actual):  Montego Bay Properties, LLC, 3604 Eastern Avenue, #400, Baltimore, MD 21224, John K Reiff, registered agent

1819 W Fairmount Avenue -- Note the lack of a roof and BCFD red x sign, indicating the property is not safe to enter.

1819 W Fairmount Avenue — Note the lack of a roof and BCFD red x sign, indicating the property is not safe to enter.

Rear of 1819 W Fairmount Avenue.  You can barely see the house, since the rear yard is so overgrown.

Rear of 1819 W Fairmount Avenue. You can barely see the house, since the rear yard is so overgrown.

2002 Harlem Avenue

Property Address:  2002 Harlem Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21217

Property Owner:  Montego Bay Properties, LLC, 3604 Eastern Avenue, #400, Baltimore, MD 21224

Resident Agent for Montego Bay Properties, LLC:  John Reiff, same address

City Council District and Contact:  District 9, “Pistol” Pete Welch

State Senator:  Verna Jones Rodwell

State Delegates:  Keith HaynesKeiffer Mitchell JrMelvin Stukes

2002_harlem_ave

Number 1000!

I figured that the 1000th post should be something a little nicer than a photo of a run-down vacant owned by a slumlord, so…what to write about?

A random slumlord-owned vacant, also the "cover model" for last year's holiday card.

A random slumlord-owned vacant, also the “cover model” for last year’s holiday card.

How about all the “successes” we’ve had over the past five years?  Or how about a “worst slumlord in Baltimore” post?  Ehh…how about all of the above, coupled with some folks we’re eternally grateful to for their support over the years?  Ding ding ding, we have a winner.

A few success stories:

  • We’ve heard from five residents since June of this year who were living in conditions that I wouldn’t allow my worst enemy to live in.  No heat (or intermittent heat), bad wiring, roaches, rats, mold, water leaks — you name it, they’ve experienced it.  I am very happy to say that all five residents are now living in better conditions, and their previous residences were either condemned or the owners were forced to make repairs (and fined!)  We’re still working with two residents who are trying to get their landlords to fix their slum properties — stay tuned…
  • Many of the homes that have been featured on this blog have either gone through the receivership process or are going through it now — my guess is about 50, give or take.  This means they’ll either be fixed up by their current owners, or the city will take them and sell them.  While I’m not 100% sold on the idea of the Vacants to Value program — it’s a start, and with better vetting of potential buyers and tighter monitoring, it has the potential to be a good thing for Baltimore.
  • We’ve brought national attention to a problem that was long ignored by our local government — attention, I believe, that has sparked more efforts on the part of said government to clean up our city.  We still have a long way to go, but this is a start — and since we’re not going anywhere, the attention won’t go away.  Our marginalized neighborhoods deserve better!
  • Working with community groups on their vacant issues, and trash issues — it’s an ongoing process, but small victories pop up from time to time.  I’ll take ‘em where I can get ‘em.

So…who really is the worst slumlord?

Some might say “The City”, some might say Stanley Rochkind…John Reiff…Scott Wizig…  My feeling is that it’s all of the above, plus a few we haven’t found yet.  Baltimore is chockablock full of slumlord-owned housing.  Some with tenants, but most are vacant and causing untold grief to the surrounding community members.  What’s interesting about our slumlords — they truly come from all walks of life.  Rich, poor, white, black…Christian, Jew, Muslim…politicians, police officers, teachers…conservative, liberal…there’s no one group that stands out as being “the worst” — which goes to show that evil really does come in all shapes, sizes, and colors.

And a big thank you…

Some of you might be reading the blog for the first time (thanks!) and some may have been around since the beginning.  But…I do want to take the opportunity to thank you, in no particular order:

  • Reader Rusty, S, and Bill
  • Pete from Highlandtown
  • Dennis T C, Evan, Casey, and Elaine from CTB
  • Shammy
  • Shannon F
  • Tanya L
  • Sheila Kast
  • Laura A
  • Mike B
  • Corey S
  • Robert G
  • Robert BE
  • Salvatore S
  • NPR
  • WEAA
  • Marc Steiner
  • Rob C
  • Robert W
  • Ron C and the folks at Baltimore Magazine
  • Julia, Tarek, and Nether
  • Linda R
  • Sebastian and Brooke
  • Mair
  • Fern and Baltimore Brew
  • Edward E, Baynard W, and the City Paper
  • Jamie SH
  • Christina B
  • Rob S & BNI
  • Matt H & PJC
  • Paul G
  • Beth H
  • David W & Olga M
  • Lois J
  • Andrew Z
  • Andrew H
  • Anyone else named Andrew
  • Claire from Detroit
  • Columbus, Cleveland, Richmond, Atlanta folks who started their own slumlord-watch groups
  • Voice of Russia
  • WJZ
  • The folks at Shelterforce
  • Jeff P from the CBS Evening News
  • Katherine from The Atlantic Monthly
  • Atlantic Cities
  • PAAAAAAULAAAAAAA
  • WYPR
  • Edweena
  • Beth H
  • Bill C
  • Ed R
  • The folks at Bohemian Coffeehouse
  • Brian B
  • Fred R
  • Ryan D
  • Tommy F
  • Travis
  • My two children, M and M, who put up with their mother’s obsession with vacants
  • the Baltimore Sun
  • …and probably a million other people I’m leaving off accidentally — thank you!

A Duo of Blight: 1364 and 1366 N Fremont Avenue

Property Address:  1364 and 1366 N Fremont Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21217

Property Owner (1364): Quality Realty LLC, c/o Metro Property Management Inc., 1416 Clarkview Road, Baltimore, MD 21209

Resident Agent for Quality Realty LLC: Jonathan A. Azrael, 101 E Chesapeake Avenue, 5th Fl, Baltimore, MD 21201 (Not in good standing, charter is forfeited)

Resident Agent for Metro Property Management, Inc.: Michael Klein, 7F Gwynn Mill Court, Owings Mills, MD 21117

Property Owner (1366): Kona Properties, LLC, 3604 Eastern Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21224

Resident Agent for Kona Properties, LLC: John Reiff, same address.

City Council District and Contact:  District 7, Nick Mosby

State Senator:  Verna Jones Rodwell

State Delegates:  Keith HaynesKeiffer Mitchell JrMelvin Stukes

1364 and 1366 N Fremont Avenue

1364 and 1366 N Fremont Avenue

918 N Arlington Avenue

Property Address:  918 N Arlington Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21217

Property Owner:  2008 DRR-ETS, LLC, 3604 Eastern Avenue, #400, Baltimore, MD 21224 (Not in good standing with the State of Maryland)

Resident Agent for 2008 DRR-ETS, LLC:  Anthony J. Delaurentis, same address.

More blight from the former attorneys John Reiff and Anthony Delaurentis.

City Council District and Contact:  District 9, “Pistol” Pete Welch

State Senator:  Verna Jones Rodwell

State Delegates:  Keith HaynesKeiffer Mitchell JrMelvin Stukes

This piece is particularly important, as the person depicted is also a resident of the community, and a former farrier at the Arraber stables.  People like this man, and his neighbors deserve far better than what they’re getting from slumlord property owners.

918 N Arlington Avenue, artwork by Nanook

918 N Arlington Avenue, artwork by Nanook

1028 N Monroe Street

Property Address:  1028 N Monroe Street, Baltimore, MD 21217

Property Owner:  This home was foreclosed on in February of 2010, by Anthony J. Delaurentis and Montego Bay Properties, LLC (John Reiff).  Unfortunately, they didn’t bother to record the deed with the state, and therefore the ownership information in the state and city tax rolls still lists the previous owner.

City Council District and Contact:  District 9, “Pistol” Pete Welch

State Senator:  Verna Jones Rodwell

State Delegates:  Keith HaynesKeiffer Mitchell JrMelvin Stukes

1028 N Monroe Street

1028 N Monroe Street

 

Link Roundup

Lots of good stuff in the news this week!

In the Baltimore Sun, Luke Broadwater reports the Housing Authority of Baltimore City has disbanded and laid off its Housing Security Unit.  These were the folks responsible for “investigating illegal occupants, nuisance activity, unsecured vacants and vandalism”, according to the article.

Developer Mark Manzo wanted to demolish part of a historic 19th Century church to make way for a parking lot for his new townhouses in Butcher’s Hill.  According to this Baltimore Brew article, the Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP) denied the petition, as several neighbors, and District 13 Councilman Warren Branch protested the effort.  One neighbor called the townhouses “boring”.

Vacants are everywhere, including Japan, says Business Insider.

Since you can’t talk about vacants without mentioning Detroit… S&P has downgraded Wayne County’s credit rating to two steps above “junk”, says Bloomberg.  That’s gotta hurt.

You can’t really talk about vacants without mentioning Baltimore or HUD, either — and the Baltimore Sun reports that HUD is shrinking its Baltimore office staff by one-third, as part of a consolidation effort.

In the UK, investors and landlords are being targeted by mortgage scammers.

Speaking of the UK, Britain’s biggest mortgage fraudster was given an extra four years in prison for conspiring to defraud two banks of £61 million, according to the London Evening Standard.  One of his previous scams was selling bogus manorial titles to Americans.

Dozens of homes in New Orleans were moved and then left to deteriorate, at taxpayer expense, according to WWLVT Channel 4.  The nonprofit in charge of renovating the homes, Builders of Hope, is no longer involved in the project.  If you recall, the Baltimore Sun reported back in 2012, the same nonprofit was supposed to partner with Ray Lewis to renovate 500 homes in Baltimore, and that seems to have gone nowhere.

You know life has taken a bad turn when the feds are busting down the door, looking for your 40+ year old son who’s living in your basement.  Van Smith from the City Paper reports on former deputy mayor and state delegate Salima Siler Marriott’s latest woes.

And speaking of the feds — Philadelphia’s notorious “Slumlord Millionaire” Robert Coyle is on his way to the pokey after defrauding a couple of banks.  Nevermind the fact that he’s allegedly swindled people in his “rent to own” schemes, and forced citizens in the Kensington neighborhood of Philly to live next to his blighted nasty homes…oh, and how about the fact that he treated his tenants worse than animals and forced some of them to live without plumbing or heat?  But hey — he defrauded a couple of banks, so off to the clink he goes!

Because sometimes I like to save the best for last…

The man who raped a 13 year old girl in a vacant home (owned at the time by disbarred attorney John Reiff) has been sentenced to four life sentences.  Count ‘em — 1-2-3-4.  I would say justice has been served quite nicely — I hope he also has to pay for the counseling the survivor will need to be able to move past such a horror.