St. Petersburg Landlord Pleads Guilty To EPA Lead Paint Disclosure Offense
Tampa, FL – United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that Michael Moshe Shimshoni (56, Tierra Verde) pleaded guilty today to failing to provide a federally approved lead-based paint hazard brochure to a tenant. Shimshoni faces a maximum penalty of one year in federal prison and a $25,000 fine for each day of the violation. As part of a plea agreement, Shimshoni also agreed to pay restitution to the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) by no later than the time of sentencing, in the amount of $50,000, for costs incurred by the EPA to remove and replace lead-contaminated soil at 1075 17th Avenue North, St. Petersburg, Florida. A sentencing date has been scheduled for November 7, 2014.
According to the plea agreement, Shimshoni served as a property manager and lessor of commercial and residential properties through Pinellas Properties, Inc., and Affordable Realty and Property Management, Inc., among other entities. As part of this business, he leased various rental units located at 1075 17th Avenue North in St. Petersburg. The property and rental units qualified as “target housing” under the Toxic Substances Control Act, the Lead Hazard Reduction Act, and related federal laws and regulations.
Federal law and regulations require lessors to provide a prospective tenant of target housing, before a tenant is obligated under any lease, with:
- A Lead Warning Statement with the following language: Housing built before 1978 may contain lead-based paint. Lead from paint, paint chips, and dust can pose health hazards if not managed properly. Lead exposure is especially harmful to young children and pregnant women. Before renting pre-1978 housing, lessors must disclose the presence of lead-based paint and/or lead based paint hazards in the dwelling. Lessees must also receive a federally approved pamphlet on lead poisoning prevention;
- A statement by the landlord disclosing the presence of any known lead-based paint and/or lead-based paint hazards in the target housing or indicating no knowledge of the presence of lead-based paint and/or lead-based hazards;
- A list of records or reports of lead-based paint and/or lead-based paint hazards or an indication that no records or reports are available; and
- A statement by the tenant affirming the receipt of a lead hazard information pamphlet approved by the EPA alertingtenants of the dangers of lead paint and measures to reduce the risk of lead-based hazards.
On or about April 1, 2009, Shimshoni knowingly and willfully failed, and caused the failure to provide a tenant at 1075 17th Avenue North, with a federally approved lead-based paint hazard brochure such as the EPA pamphlet entitled “Protect Your Family From Lead In Your Home.”
"The dangers associated with lead paint are well established and every person deserves to know whether his or her residence is contaminated. The defendant's disregard for his tenants' health cannot - and will not - be tolerated," said Maureen O'Mara, Special Agent in Charge of EPA's criminal enforcement program in Florida.
This case was investigated by EPA Criminal Investigations Division. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Matthew J. Mueller.