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Sherrie Keys uses federal racketeering law against "landlord cartel."
Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) February 25, 2013
A homeless plaintiff is using a federal law normally used to fight organized crime to sue her former landlord. Plaintiff Sherrie Keys filed a federal racketeering lawsuit (Case 2:12-CV-05244-PA-AGR) accusing Chris Dornin of Dornin Investment Group, realtor Yitzy Pearson of Pearson Affiliated, John Safi of SAFCO Capital Group, Attorney Raymond Zakari of Zakari Law Inc. and other co-conspirators of engaging in racketeering by using the federal postal system and interstate wires in a scheme to free rental properties from Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance requirements.
The pro se Skid Row litigant filed racketeering charges against her former landlord in a case presided over by Honorable Judge Percy Anderson. “I think Judge Anderson is annoyed that I filed this at the federal level,” Keys stated. “He heard the words ‘landlord’ and ‘tenant’ and automatically assumed that it was a simple landlord-tenant dispute. I did a poor job of explaining the federal implications but my case meets the threshold of extortion as the defendants stole property through abuse of their office and authority."
The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court in downtown Los Angeles, alleges an extortion scheme that used eviction shakedowns to unlawfully obtain rent-regulated property. Investors who purchased the 701 South Mariposa property, located in the mid-Wilshire district, banked on the next wave of neighborhood gentrification. The high returns demanded by the speculative multi-million dollar purchase required kicking out modest rent tenants to re-rent the units profitably.
“It was a predatory equity scheme,” says Keys. “A predatory equity scheme that involved an investment firm who successfully obtained equity from private and public sources by promising a high rate-of-return on investment (ROI), and then used aggressive, extortionist litigation to strong-arm tenants out.”
Keys' lawsuit alleges that continuous intimidation, threats of eviction, threats of homelessness and financial injury were all used to induce her to move. The strategy involved repeated, baseless unlawful detainer lawsuits to force tenants out. Under the Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance, there are 12 legal reasons for a no-fault eviction. If there’s a no-fault eviction, the property owner is required to pay relocation assistance. The racketeering scheme, which skirted the Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance, avoided a potential payout of $439,200 in relocation assistance payments to tenants. "It's not about cockroaches. It's not about mold. It's about greed. It's about what happens when a greed-driven real estate transaction turns a landlord into an illegal enterprise," says Keys.
Keys has taken up residence in downtown's Skid Row, just a few blocks from the federal courthouse. "It isn't as frightening as it sounds. I've received several marriage proposals down here and the rats are uncharacteristically polite." She vows to continue living on Skid Row until her case is settled. "I'm not a tin-foil hat wearing litigant. I take this case seriously. Every time I get a bed bug bite or walk down the street and inhale piss and excrement, I get re-energized."
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