NJ Landlord Joseph Centanni pays $4.5 Mil settlement

0
22
NJ Landlord Joseph Centanni pays $4.5 Mil settlement

A creepy New Jersey landlord accused of demanding sexual favors from dozens of his low-income tenants in exchange for housing help has agreed to pay a landmark $4.5 million settlement, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.

Joseph Centanni, 73, who owned hundreds of rental units in and around Elizabeth, will pay the whopping sum to his accusers to settle a federal lawsuit alleging he sexually harassed vulnerable tenants over a 15-year span.

The agreement marks the largest monetary settlement the DOJ has ever obtained in a case alleging sexual harassment in housing.

Centanni allegedly demanded oral sex or touched the tenants inappropriately in exchange for helping them stay in their homes or receive rent assistance.

He threatened to evict those who refused his demands or rejected his advances, according to the lawsuit filed last August.

Apartment building
Joseph Centanni would target women, gay or bisexual men and take them to empty apartments and force them to massage or touch him sexually.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Centanni would allegedly take tenants and housing applicants to empty apartments or storage rooms where he’d demand massages, expose himself or force them to touch him in a sexual manner.

The landlord would target women and gay or bisexual men, the DOJ said.

Centanni’s properties accepted federal Section 8 housing vouchers, netting him more than $100,000 in Housing Choice Voucher payments each month.

The $4.5 million he has agreed to pay will be distributed to his victims through a compensation fund, according to the DOJ.

DOJ
The DOJ says the $4.5 million settlement is the largest it’s ever obtained for housing sexual discrimination. The funds will be dispersed in a compensation fund for the victims of Joseph Centanni.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

He has also been banned from ever owning or managing rental properties.

“The need for housing is a basic human need,” Acting US Attorney Rachael A. Honig of the District of New Jersey said in a statement announcing the settlement.

“Joseph Centanni exploited that need, and the important federal programs that attempt to meet it, by threatening to deny his victims a roof over their heads if they did not submit to his demands for sexual acts.” 

Rental property
Joseph Centanni is also banned from owning or managing rental properties in the future. He is facing separate criminal sexual assault charges.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Separately, Centanni is facing multiple criminal sexual assault and attempted sexual assault charges involving at least 20 tenants that were filed in March in Union County.

That case is still proceeding, a rep for the Union County Prosecutor’s Office said Tuesday.

Centanni’s attorney, Raymond Londa, said the landlord didn’t admit to any wrongdoing in agreeing to the settlement.

“Mr. Centanni settled the matter to avoid protracted litigation,” Londa said. “Mr. Centanni continues to deny the allegations.”

With Post wires

Source link