Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Dohoney: Good faith effort on compliance could keep woman out of jail

A Cincinnati property owner who's facing jail time for building code violations has put herself in the situation, according to a report from city manager Milton Dohoney.

The report is in response to an October communication from the woman who claimed that the City has it out for them because she and her husband are immigrants from China and Taiwan, and they're using the condition of their buildings to violate their constitutional rights.

She claimed, among other things, the refusal of the City to grant permits, warrantless and illegal searches by building inspectors, injuries to her husband resulting from the search, the failure of the court to grant a motion for discovery in her husband's case, and extreme financial hardship from the City shutting down her buildings.

She now faces jail up to 18 months in jail for violations at 1818 Race Street*, 2311 Kemper Lane, and 2232 Boone Street.

Her husband has already been sentenced to 60 days in jail, with 120 days suspended and 2 years of probation.

On November 17, the woman plans to enter "no contest" pleas to the charges before Hamilton County Municipal Court Judge David Stockdale.

Dohoney says that her rights remain safeguarded.

"If sentenced, the maximum possible sentence is 18 months," he says. "She has retained counsel and will be entering 'no contest' pleas to the criminal charges. To date, [she] has not achieved compliance with the lawful orders issued by the building inspectors. Judge Stockdale will determine the appropriate sentence."

Dohoney suggests that the woman may receive some leniency - and stay out of jail - by showing a good faith effort to bring her properties up to code.

"[She] needs to comply with the law by bringing her properties into code compliance," he says. "To date, the prosecution has not received a positive report regarding [her] compliance efforts."

Upon his impending release from jail, her husband has until December 10 to comply with his orders or face more jail time.

* 1818 Race Street has green storefront in photo.

Previous reading on BC:
Property owner: 'Is Cincinnati 200 years behind the rest of the world in the legal system?' (10/9/08)