Published on October 21st, 2015 |1
Buckhead RE speculator to spend 30 days in jail for blighted properties
English Avenue has long suffered from neglect at the hands of absentee landlords. Warren was one of the biggest, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation, and he had at least 20
housing code enforcement convictions to his name.
According to an AJC report, Deputy Solicitor Drew Taylor, who presented Municipal Court Judge Crystal Gaines with an inches-thick pile of the investor’s past citations during the sentencing hearing, said fining Warren again would not stop him.
“It appears that this is just the cost of doing business,” Taylor said, and asked that Warren receive 120 days behind bars. The actual ruling was for Warren to spend 60 days in jail but to serve the two 30-day terms concurrently.
Warren remains free on bond while appeals of his cases are pending. After the hearing, Warren’s attorney George Lawson said the verdict was no surprise, and hinted that Reed’s interest in the case played a role in the outcome.
“How many other ordinance violations have you seen the mayor at?” Lawson said.
Reed left without making a comment, but said in a written statement that he was pleased with the sentence.
“We hope that today’s ruling will let other speculators know that this criminal behavior will not be tolerated in the city of Atlanta,” the AJC reported Reed as saying.
Residents said the successful prosecution of such a high-profile absentee landlord was already having an impact on other speculators and the overall vigor of the English Avenue neighborhood.
After the sentencing, Warren stood trial for the fourth time this year on housing code violations. No verdict was issued on charges that a house he operated in northwest Atlanta was overgrown, open to unforced entry and vacant. His next trial is scheduled for January, and he has a half-dozen other citations pending.
Tuesday’s rare jail sentence for housing code violations was the result of nearly a year of city efforts. After an AJC investigation, city code enforcement officers cracked down on Warren’s properties, while Reed vowed to bring the real estate speculator to justice.
Before Warren’s prosecution, absentee investors would mow only half of their overgrown yards to get inspectors off their backs, said Demarcus Peters, a community activist and former president of the English Avenue Neighborhood Association.u