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Friday, October 1, 2010
Court Finds Shreveport, La., Landlord Denied Housing on the Basis of Race

WASHINGTON– A federal district judge in Shreveport, La., has found that Reggie Collier, a Louisiana landowner, violated the Fair Housing Act by interfering with the sale of a home based on the perceived race of the buyer, the Justice Department announced today. The court ordered Collier to pay a $25,000 civil penalty to the United States, and to pay more than $25,000 to compensate the victims of the discrimination.

The lawsuit, which resulted from an investigation conducted by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), alleged that Collier engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination by excluding African-Americans from the Camp Joy Marina, located outside Shreveport, and by interfering with the sale of a home based on the perceived race of the buyer.

"Our nation’s civil rights laws have long guaranteed that all individuals, regardless of race, can access housing free from discrimination," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. "The Justice Department will not tolerate housing discrimination in this country."

After a two day trial, the court found that Collier implemented "a scheme or device to exclude blacks" from Camp Joy Marina and engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination. The court credited the testimony of one government witness who operated the marina restaurant and bar, and who testified that Collier threatened to cancel his lease if he allowed African-Americans on the property. The court also found that when a couple living at the marina tried to sell their home, Collier caused the sale to fall apart and then repossessed the house because he was afraid they would sell it to an African-American.

"Everyone has the right to be treated fairly and equitably when purchasing a home.  It is one of the most significant and largest purchases one makes," said U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana Stephanie A. Finley.  "Racial discrimination is wrong, and it is illegal.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to vigorously address unlawful discrimination and violations of the Fair Housing Act."

"HUD and the Department of Justice work together to end housing discrimination in America," said John Trasviña, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.  "The court’s decision in this case demonstrates that illegal housing discrimination is not welcome in any neighborhood and that the Fair Housing Act will be enforced vigorously."

The compensatory damages are divided among the couple whose home Reggie Collier repossessed, and the two real-estate agents who lost commissions when the sale fell apart.

Fighting illegal discrimination in housing is a top priority of the Justice Department. The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex familial status, national origin and disability. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at

www.usdoj.gov/crt . Individuals who believe that they have been victims of housing discrimination or have information related to this lawsuit can call the Housing Discrimination Tip Line at 1-800-896-7743, e-mail the Justice Department at fairhousing@usdoj.gov  or contact the Department of Housing and Urban Development at 1-800-669-9777.

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