EAST ORANGE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — There has been a major development in CBS2’s forgotten families series.
A notorious landlord who has been paid by New York City to house homeless families across the river pleaded guilty to a New Jersey judge, admitting he put them in unlivable conditions, Lisa Rozner reported Wednesday.
In February, Sean Young ran from Rozner, but on Wednesday, two months later, he stood in front of Judge Sherwin Campbell.
“You failed to provide heat at the appropriate temperature. Is that correct?” Judge Campbell asked.
“Yes, your honor,” Young replied.
He entered a guilty plea to a barrage of violations at his two homes in East Orange, New Jersey, where New York City’s Department of Homeless Services paid him one year’s rent upfront to rent to two different families. The program is called SOTA, which stands for the Special One-Time Assistance program. The working families soon found Young’s units were unlivable.
The judge ordered Young to pay the city of East Orange $21,000 in fines. Violations include allowing an infestation, sewage on the premises, exposing residents to a condition that would create disease, and no running water.
When asked if there was anything he wanted to say after pleading guilty to everything, Young said, “I’m just happy everything’s taken care of.”
He did not respond when pressed about what he did with the money New York City gave him for the apartment deemed unlivable, believed to be at least $40,000.
A representative from New York City watched the hearing and so did Michael Leake, Young’s former tenant. The judge also ordered Young to pay Leake $5,000 for his troubles by May 15 or serve one month in jail.
“I think he got off pretty easy … $5,000 is a very small amount considering the money he was given,” Leake said. “I’m gonna leave it in the hands of the court. I’m satisfied with the judgment and let’s see what happens.”
In March, another SOTA landlord, Sean Richway, was ordered to pay $2,000 to East Orange for dilapidated conditions.
“The goal is to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” East Orange Municipal Prosecutor Mark Cintron said.
CBS2 recently obtained records that show that more than 1,000 New Yorkers have been placed in cities in New Jersey. Leading the top four is Newark with 889, and more than 100 in East Orange, Irvington and Jersey City.
In his final words Wednesday, the judge told Young to do the right thing so the two don’t have to see each other again.
It is still unclear whether Young and other SOTA landlords will have to see a judge in New York.
CBS2 reached out to DHS for comment, but the agency didn’t immediately respond. Last week it told us it was investigating.