St. Petersburg landlord Michael Shimshoni faces federal charges after lied about toxic lead paint

The man known by neighbors and city officials as St. Petersburg's most notorious nuisance landlord now faces federal charges.
 
Michael Shimshoni and Affordable Realty, the company he runs, are linked to more than 120 properties in St. Petersburg. According to Nuisance Abatement Coordinator Elizabeth Ledbetter, he is responsible for paying $41,667 in nuisance fines since 1997. 
 
It totals about one-fifth of the entire city's nuisance fines.
 
Neighbors often call to complain, yet the city has little recourse other than to continue fining him.
 
"Unfortunately, when you have the same owner who has learned the ropes over the years, it makes it that much more difficult," Ledbetter said.
 
Still, Ledbetter's curious to see what will happen in light of a plea agreement Shimshoni signed, which charges him with lying about toxic lead paint.
 
According to the federal indictment, Shimshoni backdated tenant agreements at 1075 17th Avenue North to make it look like they were aware of the hazards of their homes.
 
"It's ruined our neighborhood," Suellen Glover said.
 
Glover lives across the street from the property in question. She says she often counts drug deals outside. The property is listed on the Pinellas County jail website several times as the arrest location for crimes like drugs, battery, and child abuse.
 
"I never came out here without my dog because I didn't feel safe. I'd be approached by people from the house across the street," Glover said.
 
Glover hopes the federal charges may shut down Shimshoni for good. He could serve up to 20 years in prison and pay a $250,000 fine.
 
Last February, ABC Action News exposed the latest investigation into complaints of other neighbors beside the home. 
 
Tuesday, one of the tenants took us inside.
 
"I said, 'Are you going to court? Are you going to go to jail? Am I going to have a place to go?'" Stephanie Lowney remembered.
 
According to Lowney, Shimshoni denied any legal troubles at all. She just moved in a few months ago.
 
"There is nowhere else to go. I will lose my dogs. I'll have to give my son to his father. I probably will not be able to go to school," Lowney said. "It will be really bad."
 
None of our calls to Shimshoni or his attorney have been returned. When ABC Action News spoke with Shimshoni in February, he denied owning any properties but a half-million dollar home on Tierra Verde.
 
"Take some of that money you have and either make that a habitable place for decent people to live or get out of our neighborhood," Glover said.
 
Though Shimshoni signed a plea agreement, the details of his sentencing will not be official until after his court hearing on August 5.
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