Judge: Landlord must secure vacant Carrick apartments

The now-vacant apartments and town houses in Carrick that were shut down over the past four months after Pittsburgh and Allegheny County inspectors found dozens of health and building code violations have begun to draw trespassers, including vagrants and mischievous teens, a city inspector said Thursday.

At a hearing on the still-unresolved code violations filed against landlord Davin Gartley, city building inspector Brian Ralston said some of the boards city workers put over windows and doors on the town homes on Berg Place have been pried loose. Those town homes sit behind apartment buildings Mr. Gartley owns at 2531-2539 Brownsville Road.

 A fire was reported in the rear of one of the buildings, Mr. Ralston added during the hearing before District Judge Richard G. King.

“They are getting access to them,” Mr. Ralston said.

Mr. Gartley, 38, of Mt. Lebanon, has been fined more than $11,000 for the Brownsville Road violations, which included lead hazards, sewage, trash and lack of running water, as well as water-service violations at other properties he owns on the South Side.

Judge King told Mr. Gartley, seated next to his lawyer, David Valencik, that the fines for the outstanding violations, which were for rotting porches, non-functioning smoke alarms, missing downspouts and railings, and broken sewage lines, among others, could approach $16,000. However, with all the tenants out, the judge said he would rather see the money spent on securing the property.

“It doesn’t take $16,000 to properly secure those buildings,” Judge King said. “This needs to be done correctly.”

Judge King said the building could become a hazardous attraction for juveniles and homeless people as well as a nuisance for police and firefighters. On Thursday afternoon, at least 10 windows were open or broken at the apartment buildings that front on Brownsville Road.

“This can’t be that kind of place,” Judge King said. “We’re not going to let it be that kind of place.”

Mr. Valencik said his client is visiting the property “as often as possible” and told the judge the court’s instructions were clear.

Mr. Gartley and Mr. Valencik declined comment after the hearing.

In addition to his property violations, Mr. Gartley has other legal woes.

He was sentenced to 12 months probation last week after pleading guilty to possession of a controlled substance, which stemmed from his arrest in May on cocaine possession and other drug charges following a traffic stop.

In July, he pleaded guilty to a summary offense — in which the value is $200 or less — of issuing bad checks in Bethel Park. A clerk for District Judge Ronald A. Armoni said Mr. Gartley paid court costs of about $271 for that offense.

Robert Zullo: rzullo@post-gazette.com, 412-263-3909 or on Twitter @rczullo.

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