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State Sues Syracuse Landlord Over Lead-Based Paints


New York Attorney General Letitia James, Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon, and Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh have filed a lawsuit against William D’Angelo and his company Marpat LLC for what they claim are repeated and persistent violations of NY lead safety laws at nearly two dozen rental properties in Syracuse. Over the past seven years, there were 336 violations of lead safety laws at 22 different properties owned by D’Angelo. At least 15 children, 10 of them children of color, were poisoned by lead while living at these properties.

In the complaint filed Thursday, Attorney General James, County Executive McMahon, and Mayor Walsh seek to require D’Angelo to pay thousands in restitution to the impacted families in addition to substantial penalties, and to disgorge all ill-gotten profits, such as rent payments. They are also seeking an order to stop D’Angelo’s harmful housing practices and require him to resolve all existing lead paint-related violations, conduct regular inspections of lead conditions within his properties, and implement proper safety measures moving forward.

“In Syracuse and throughout New York, children of color suffer the irreversible health effects of lead exposure at disproportionate rates,” said Attorney General James. “William D’Angelo violated more than our lead safety laws — he violated tenants’ trust and put families in danger. I will continue to fight to protect our children from lead poisoning by holding neglectful landlords accountable for their roles in exacerbating this public health crisis.”

Over the last 30 years, D’Angelo has owned and managed at least 48 rental properties with at least 116 individual rental units in Syracuse. According to city and county records, all of D’Angelo’s rental properties were built prior to 1940, and therefore are all presumed to contain lead-based paint. Most of these properties are in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color.

Since 2016, at least 22 of D’Angelo’s properties have been cited for conditions conducive to lead poisoning. Despite being cited numerous times for hundreds of lead-based paint violations, D’Angelo did not properly address these hazards at his properties. D’Angelo consistently failed to enforce lead-safe work practices and often employed untrained, uncertified workers to perform renovations, resulting in the creation and dispersal of lead-containing dust and paint chips in living areas. D’Angelo further violated lead safety regulations by refusing to disclose information about lead hazards related to renovations and the deteriorating state of the buildings to residents and potential tenants.

The complaint alleges that D’Angelo’s repeated and persistent violations of lead safety laws caused at least 15 children to be poisoned by lead while living at his properties. With this lawsuit, Attorney General James is seeking full disgorgement of all ill-gotten profits, such as rent payments received, and penalties of up to $5,000 for every false or misleading lead disclosure D’Angelo provided to tenants. Attorney General James is also seeking thousands of dollars in restitution for the families of every child poisoned by lead while living at a D’Angelo property.

The lawsuit also seeks robust injunctive relief to swiftly identify and eliminate lead paint hazards at all D’Angelo’s properties in an order that would require D’Angelo to:

  • Immediately correct all existing lead paint-related violations cited by the city or county that are past their respective deadlines;
  • Require a lead-based paint risk assessment at each of D’Angelo’s residences through a third-party Environmental Protection Agency-certified risk assessor approved by OAG;
  • Create a Lead Safe Work Plan for removing and/or remediating all conditions conducive to lead poisoning following the inspection;
  • Promptly make any renovations necessary using EPA-certified lead-based paint professionals and properly trained and certified workers; and
  • Hire an independent monitor to supervise and report to OAG on the defendants’ compliance.

“My administration has placed a laser-like focus on tackling the lead issue in our community. We have made historic investments which have allowed our community to truly and comprehensively tackle the lead issue at its root,” said Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon. “In order to be successful, however, we must have partners that are willing to hold landlords accountable who knowingly and callously put children at risk for lead poisoning. I want to thank Attorney General James and her team for being that partner and for their unwavering commitment and collaboration.”

“Every day, City of Syracuse code enforcement inspectors are identifying lead hazards in homes and taking action to get them corrected. Combined with health data from Onondaga County, this work makes it possible for Attorney General James to hold landlords accountable for ignoring lead hazards,” said Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh. “This is our third major action against Syracuse property owners who are disregarding the safety of their tenants. Landlords should be on notice: subjecting children and families to lead-based paint hazards will not be tolerated.”

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