FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEENRD
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 14, 2001(410) 209-4854
TDD (202) 514-1888(202) 514-2008
WASHINGTON-AREA LANDLORD INDICTED FOR LYING ABOUT
LEAD PAINT HAZARDS
First Criminal Prosecution Relating to Hazard Warnings
Required by the Lead Hazard Reduction Act of 1992
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A federal grand jury in Greenbelt, Md. today returned a 15-count indictment charging landlord David D. Nuyen with obstructing justice and submitting false documents to federal officials, in order to conceal his alleged failure to notify tenants of the presence and hazards associated with lead-based paint. The indictment is the first-ever criminal prosecution in the United States related to lead hazard warnings that are required under the federal Lead Hazard Reduction Act of 1992.
Nuyen, 65, of Silver Spring, Md., owns and manages 15 low-income rental properties in the District of Columbia and Maryland. According to the indictment, Nuyen had notice of actual lead-paint hazards at one of his apartment buildings.
In September 1998, the Department of Housing and Urban Development contacted Nuyen as part of a federal initiative to enforce the provision of the Lead Hazard Reduction Act that requires landlords to tell tenants, before they sign a lease, about actual or potential hazards of lead-based paint. The law requires landlords to give tenants an EPA pamphlet about lead hazards and how to minimize the dangers to children, and it directs landlords to document their compliance with the law by keeping tenants' signatures on file, using a standard disclosure form.
The indictment charges that Nuyen gave HUD backdated forms containing "false, fictitious and fraudulent statements," after he was unable to produce records demonstrating that he had complied with the tenant-notification requirement. The indictment alleges that:
- Nuyen backdated his signature and his tenants' signatures on lead paint disclosure forms and represented that he signed and distributed the forms and gave tenants all available records and reports pertaining to lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards in the housing;
- Nuyen directed resident building managers to have tenants sign and backdate forms by putting the tenants' move-in date on the form, rather than the date on which the tenant actually received the lead notice and signed the form;
- Nuyen gave HUD the forms without disclosing that some tenant signatures had actually been written by resident building managers employed by Nuyen, not signed by the tenants; and
- Nuyen gave lead hazard notification forms to HUD representing that he told tenants he had no specific information of lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards for apartments at 4120 14th Street NW in Washington DC, although Nuyen and General Promotional Technology had been issued notices by the District of Columbia requiring repairs and warning that lead-based paint had been found in certain apartments in a quantity sufficient to constitute a hazard.
The indictment alleges that Nuyen gave HUD "false and misleading lead paint disclosure forms" regarding certain apartments at the following rental properties in the District of Columbia: 5611 5th Street NW; 5024 9th Street NW; 1125 12th Street NW; 4120 14th Street NW; 906 Gallatin Street NW; 506 Longfellow Street NW; and 1814 Q Street SE.
The maximum penalty for each count charged is a term of incarceration of 5 years and a $250,000 criminal fine. An indictment represents allegations made by a Grand Jury and must be proved by United States beyond a reasonable doubt during a jury trial.
The case was investigated by the HUD Office of Inspector General, the EPA Criminal Investigation Division and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Maryland and the Environmental Crimes Section of the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Justice Department.