A landlord in St. Petersburg, Florida has pleaded guilty to charges that he failed to warn a tenant that lead paint was used on his property. Due to the dangers lead paint poses to residents, especially young children, the offense is considered a federal charge.
On Friday, August 29, Michael Shimshoni, 56, admitted in court that he did not provide a renter with a federally-approved hazard brochure in 2009. He faces a maximum penalty of one year in federal prison, as well as a $25,000 fine for each day of the violation. Shimshoni also agreed to a plea deal which will require him to pay $50,000 in restitution to the Environmental Protection Agency before November 7, the day of his sentencing. This amount will cover costs the EPA incurred while removing and replacing soil contaminated with lead at the property in question.
Court records show that Shimshoni served as a property manager and lessor at Pinellas Properties, Affordable Realty and Property Management, as well as other businesses. Over the course of his duties, he reportedly leased several rental units at 1075 17th Ave N., which qualified as “target housing” under several federal statutes, including the Toxic Substances Control Act and the Lead Hazard Reduction Act. Under these regulations, lessors must provide a federal lead warning statement to prospective tenants before they sign a lease.
Unsurprisingly, the lead paint incident is not Shimshoni’s first run-in with the law: in March, St. Petersburg city council member Darden Rice used him as an example of “bad apple” landlords who repeatedly violate city codes. Rice used Shimshoni’s reputation to gather support for a city registry of these bad landlords. Such a registry would aim to bar qualifying offenders from applying for grants to improve properties and other city incentives.