Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Judge hears criminal housing cases

By Sharon Turco
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[photo] The landlord of this property at 2179 Selim Avenue, South Fairmount, is accused of failing to maintain the building.
(Michael E. Keating photo)
| ZOOM |
Two landlords have meetings with Cincinnati building inspectors after Hamilton County's first criminal housing court - targeted at chronic building-code violations - went into action Monday.

It took only 20 minutes for Hamilton County Municipal Judge Guy C. Guckenberger to hear those cases and order another landlord to return to court in two weeks.

The special docket, requested by the city as a tool to fight owners of problem properties, was supposed to begin a week ago, but no municipalities presented any cases.

"It wasn't hard," Judge Guckenberger said about Monday. "These are all criminal cases; the difference is I'm paying a little bit more attention to them."

In court Monday were:

An attorney representing Timothy Higgins, 46, of South Fairmount. He is accused of failing to maintain an apartment building he owns at 3326 Woodburn Ave., Evanston.

James Craig, 57, of South Fairmount. He is accused of failing to maintain a vacant building at 2179 Selim Ave., South Fairmount.

Terry R. Hamad, 55, of Walnut Hills. He is accused of failing to maintain property at 2112 Kemper Lane, Walnut Hills.

Each charge is a first-degree misdemeanor. If convicted, the men face up to six months in jail.

All three cases were continued until Jan. 27, the next session of housing court. Mr. Hamad told the court he has since brought his property into compliance, a claim the housing department will check before Jan. 27. Attorney Fanon A. Rucker made a similar appointment with the housing department for Mr. Higgins.

"I am going to keep a short leash on continuances so these cases don't drag out," Judge Guckenberger said.

The first session of housing court attracted several city officials.

City Solicitor J. Rita McNeil was there, as were officials from the city health department, and Cincinnati City Councilman Chris Monzel.

E-mail sturco@enquirer.com

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