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

334 S Calhoun Street

More blight owned by Delaurentis, Reiff and Reid.

Property Address:  334 S Calhoun Street, Baltimore, MD 21223

Property Owner:  2008 DRR-ETS, LLC, 3604 Eastern Avenue, Suite 300, Baltimore, MD 21224

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

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

State Senator (District 40): Catherine E. Pugh

State Delegates (District 40): Frank M. Conaway, Antonio L. Hayes. Barbara A. Robinson

334 S Calhoun Street

334 S Calhoun Street

BCFD Was Here: 1523 Hazel Street

Property Address: 1523 Hazel Street, Baltimore, MD 21226

Property Owner: ETS Maryland, LLC, 3604 Eastern Avenue, #300, Baltimore, MD 21224 (charter has been forfeited, company is not in good standing)

ETS Maryland is one of the tax-sale foreclosure bidders that was controlled by former attorneys Anthony DeLaurentis, John Reiff, and John Reid before they were caught bid-rigging at municipal auctions and disbarred as a result. We’ve detailed their property purchases and noncompliance with the law several times. An order foreclosing the right of redemption on this property was issued in 2011 (Circuit Court case 24C10001905). In the four years since, nothing has been done to it, and no permits are on file. The city fire department has declared the house too unsafe for firefighters to enter, and have placed a red X placard on the front.

City Council District and Contact:  District 10, Ed Reisinger

State Senator (District 46): William C. Ferguson IV

State Delegates (District 46): Luke H. Clippinger, Peter A. Hammen, Brooke E. Lierman

1523 Hazel Street

1523 Hazel Street

 

Interesting Items from the 2015 Baltimore Tax Sale List

Every year the city auctions off property (both lots and structures) when the property owner fails to pay municipal fees, like water bills and property taxes. Many of these parcels are owned by people who have no idea what to do, in order to save their homes. There is help available, for those who need it.

However, it’s always interesting to see how many investor-owned properties, many of which are blighted vacants, end up on the tax sale list. The 2015 list contains a total of 28,857 properties. The liens range from a low of $250 to a high of $1,814,710. Of these properties, 3,743 are owned by LLCs, many of them forfeited (The most notable LLC name has to be Bump Bump Wump of Gump, LLC. Catchy…but forfeited, and they owe $16,128 on a house on Springdale Avenue. Another chunk of properties are owned by corporations, trusts, and other entities — add those to the LLCs and it makes up about a quarter to one third of the list overall.

The usual suspects are on the list, too:  Holabird Investments, CE Realty (27 properties), Stanley Rochkind through his various shell companies (65 properties with liens on them), John Reiff, Anthony Delaurentis and John Reid — under their various shell companies, they have over 70 properties listed. Various Skyline entities own 176 properties on the list, and Rex Frost has a mere six. The Mayor and City Council are on the hook for 18 properties, one of which has a lien on it for over $104,000 — 2103 Hollins Street, which is a blighted vacant probably not worth much more than $5000.

Seeing all of these properties on the list gives me hope that perhaps they’ll be purchased by someone who will fix them up and do good things with them. I think two thirds of my neighborhood is on the list — at least half. Just one more piece of the fallout from the mortgage bust, and what happens when predatory buyers swoop in and purchase properties with the hopes of getting rich quick.

Here’s the full list, for those who might be interested in becoming responsible property owners. Good luck, and best of luck to those who are trying to save their homes — make sure you avail yourself of the workshops offering legal help — the first one is this coming Saturday!

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