Warrant Issued for Fugitive Slum Landlord

From United Press International

A judge on Friday issued a $2-million arrest warrant for the city's reputed worst slumlord, and prosecutors said they have asked the FBI to join in the search for Vijaynard Sharma.

It was the third such warrant to be issued since the 40-year-old immigrant from the Fiji Islands became a fugitive by failing to appear for sentencing last week. The combined bail for the three warrants is $2.9 million.

Municipal Judge David Doi issued the latest warrant when Sharma failed to appear in court to pay $153,000 in fines stemming from his November conviction on 112 misdemeanor violations of various city codes at three apartment buildings and two residential hotels.

Doi also revoked Sharma's $500,000 appeals bond, which the convicted slumlord had posted in order to delay serving a 20-month County Jail term he had received for the November conviction.

"It's clear the defendant is running and hiding," Doi said of Sharma, labeled "the worst slumlord in the city" by City Atty. James Hahn. "The court had every intention of working with the defendant. That cooperation was obviously misdirected."

Deputy City Atty. Abraham Khan said he has asked the FBI to join in the search for Sharma on grounds that he may have crossed state lines to avoid prosecution. Khan said he expects the FBI to grant his request.

In Court on Jan. 15

Khan said he last confirmed Sharma's whereabouts on Jan. 15 when Sharma appeared in Inglewood Municipal Court in another slumlord case. Sharma's attorney, Robert Sheahen, told the court he has not heard from his client for three weeks.

Los Angeles Municipal Judge Veronica Simmons-McBeth issued the first arrest warrant for Sharma on Jan. 20 after he failed to appear in her court for sentencing of up to nine additional months in jail in yet another slumlord case. Bail for that warrant was set at $500,000.

That case involved fire code violations found at a downtown apartment building that suffered heavy damage in an arson fire Dec. 1. Sharma is under investigation in the fire, which left 160 residents homeless.

Municipal Court Commissioner Barry Kohn issued the second arrest warrant for Sharma Thursday when he failed to appear for arraignment in eight other slumlord cases. Bail for that warrant was set at $400,000.

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