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N.J. Mayor: Ground Zero Mosque Imam Is A Slumlord

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Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf (Credit: AP)

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf (Credit: AP)

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UNION CITY, N.J. (CBS 2 / WCBS 880) – Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf has some new issues to deal with.

Some of the apartments in the buildings Rauf owns are allegedly riddled with bed bugs and have safety hazards.

CBS 2’s Magee Hickey got a peek inside the apartments at the center of a lawsuit.

LISTEN: WCBS 880′s Levon Putney reports form Union City

Paola Leiva told Hickey she has bedbugs and no child guards on her windows, even though she has three children under 6 and a leaky hole in her bathroom ceiling.

The Union City resident said she pays her landlord, Rauf, the imam at the center of the controversial mosque near ground zero, $900 a month, but the conditions don’t improve.

“The leaks in the bathroom, the worst problem. My husband makes other repairs,” Leiva said.

“He’s a slum landlord. He’s always been a slum landlord. He’s someone who takes money out of a piece of property and never puts money back in,” Mayor Brian Stack said.

On Tuesday the Union City mayor showed Hickey the lawsuit the city filed against Sage Development, a company owned by the imam.

Rauf is accused of ignoring complaints by tenants and orders by the city on issues from moldy bathrooms to fire hazards.

The imam owns an apartment building on Central Avenue and another one around the corner… on 22nd Street. The second building has been padlocked since a fire two years ago.

The mayor has stationed a police car in front of the Central Avenue building since Friday when tenants complained the fire alarms in the hallways were broken.

Tenants said signs for exterminators and building inspections just went up Monday and workers were trying to fix the fire alarms on Tuesday.

But some tenants and the mayor said it’s too little, too late.

Hickey asked Mayor Stack if this lawsuit has anything to do with his position on the planned mosque and community center near ground zero.

“I have no position on the mosque. This is more about what’s happening in Union City. We’ve done this numerous times before. He’s not the first landlord to be put in receivership and he won’t be the last,” Stack said.

The imam officially declined to comment on this lawsuit.

Rauf or his lawyers are expected in court Wednesday afternoon. They’ll answer charges that he failed to make repairs on the two buildings he owns in Union City.

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