Thursday, June 21, 2018
News Roundup

Feds become the latest to take on St. Petersburg landlord

TAMPA — A St. Petersburg landlord who has been in the doghouse over nuisance properties now faces the prospect of a bigger doghouse: federal prison.

Michael Moshe Shimshoni, 55, admits in court papers that he falsified lead paint disclosure forms, making it appear that renters knew of a risk before moving into contaminated apartments along St. Petersburg's 17th Avenue N.

He did so to throw off a federal grand jury investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency, court records state.

"The documents produced by the defendant were intended to deceive the EPA into believing that the defendant had been complying with federal law," according to a plea agreement filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Tampa.

The penalty for such a crime? Up to 20 years in prison.

Shimshoni's name is known to St. Petersburg officials. His nuisance abatement fines — assessed for chronic illegal activity on commercial properties such as the Mosley Motel, which he co-owns — have exceeded $40,000, or one-fifth of all such fines paid since 1997, a city official said Sunday.

The federal case started after investigators found lead paint chips on the ground and in the soil of apartments at 1075 17th Ave. N, a neighborhood west of Crescent Lake, during a renovation and painting project in 2011.

Lead is harmful to humans, especially children. By law, lessors of pre-1978 homes must disclose any known lead paint to prospective tenants, share inspection reports, distribute lead-hazard pamphlets — and then document those steps when a lease is signed.

Shimshoni backdated seven forms and presented them to the EPA in May 2012 after being subpoenaed by the grand jury, the plea agreement states.

He's charged with altering or falsifying records in a federal investigation, a crime that also carries a fine of up to $250,000.

His initial court appearance is set for Aug. 5 before Magistrate Judge Thomas G. Wilson, at which time he is scheduled to enter a guilty plea.

He has no prior criminal record in Florida, records show, but has been fined for code violations and in the nuisance abatement actions.

City officials link him to more than 100 properties.

Elizabeth Ledbetter, St. Petersburg's nuisance abatement coordinator, says he turned away few paying customers at one of them, the Mosley Motel — leaving fertile ground for drugs and prostitution.

"Anybody who would come in and pay for the room, would get a room," she said Sunday.

"There was no check to see if they were drug dealers or people previously arrested along that corridor for prostitution activity. That affects the entire area around the property because it would draw a certain crowd."

Shimshoni took over the Economy Inn Express, 701 34th St. N, in early 2009 and remade it into the Kenwood Village Inn — remodeling it, surrounding it with a security fence and imposing new rules. Neighbors at the time said it had gotten better.

He also vowed to turn around the nearby Mosley Motel, 401 34th St. N, but was having trouble making good on that promise a year later. Police were being called there almost daily.

Court records identify Shimshoni as property manager and lessor of Pinellas Properties Inc. and Affordable Realty and Property Management Inc., among other entities.

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Patty Ryan can be reached at (813) 226-3382.

Comments
Rays journal: 7 pitches, 3 straight homers prove too much in loss to Astros

Rays journal: 7 pitches, 3 straight homers prove too much in loss to Astros

HOUSTON — The Rays were engaged in a third straight tight, go-either-way battle with the defending champ Astros on Wednesday.Until they were not.A brutal seven-pitch sequence by starter Nathan Eovaldi changed everything, as he gave up three con...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Rays see the results of keeping a good, young core group together

Rays see the results of keeping a good, young core group together

HOUSTON — The Rays saw a lot on the weeklong trip that ended with Wednesday's game against that Astros, beyond the street hustlers prowling in Times Square and the urban cowboys and girls parading through H-town.There was an impressive debuting...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Kevin Knox poised to become Tampa Bay’s highest NBA draft pick

Kevin Knox poised to become Tampa Bay’s highest NBA draft pick

Kevin Knox Sr. was watching the NFL draft 24 years ago when the phone rang. Buffalo coach Marv Levy was on the other line."Marv said they were taking me," said Knox Sr., a standout receiver at FSU.Soon after, Knox Sr. saw his name scroll across ESPN'...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Lightning’s Victor Hedman wins NHL’s Norris Trophy

Lightning’s Victor Hedman wins NHL’s Norris Trophy

Victor Hedman, a relentless part of the Lightning's push to the Eastern Conference final last season, was honored Wednesday night with the Norris Trophy, given to the NHL's top defenseman."To the Lightning organization, Mr. Jeff Vinik, Steve Yzerman ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Rays-Astros game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Rays-Astros game

RHP Nathan Eovaldi said before his rough start Wednesday against the Astros that he was pitching better than his numbers showed. Well … In four starts since his six no-hit innings debut, he's 0-3 with a 6.17 ERA, allowing eight homers, four Wed...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Report: Bucs QB Jameis Winston bracing for suspension from NFL

Report: Bucs QB Jameis Winston bracing for suspension from NFL

Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston could be suspended for up to three games  next season following the league's investigation into allegations he groped a female Uber driver in Arizona in 2016, a Tallahassee radio station reported.Jeff Cameron, a&#...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Passengers on fatal Southwest flight sue airline and manufacturers of plane and engine

Passengers on fatal Southwest flight sue airline and manufacturers of plane and engine

Eight passengers who were aboard a Southwest Airlines flight that was forced to make an emergency landing in Philadelphia after one of its engines blew apart filed suit Wednesday against the airline, Boeing and the companies that manufactured the eng...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Former employee sued by Tesla says he was a whistleblower

Former employee sued by Tesla says he was a whistleblower

Tesla sued a former employee Wednesday, accusing the man of hacking the automaker’s computer systems and stealing company secrets, shedding light on what chief Elon Musk had suggested was the work of a secretive internal saboteur.But the employee, Ma...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Police: Couple leased someone else’s home to 15 families at same time

Police: Couple leased someone else’s home to 15 families at same time

LARGO — Vanessa Rodriguez thought she found the right house for her three kids, in the right neighborhood, for the right rent. She signed the lease for April 30, sent a $2,300 money order and planned to move in June 1.Then the delays started. She sai...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Clearwater wants $40 million from the county for a stadium. But there’s not $40 million to give.

Clearwater wants $40 million from the county for a stadium. But there’s not $40 million to give.

CLEARWATER —The city’s proposed $79.7 million overhaul of the Philadelphia Phillies’ spring training facilities depends on getting $40 million in bed taxes from Pinellas County.But records show even if county officials wanted to bankroll the Phillies...
Updated: 7 hours ago