A convicted slumlord was ordered Wednesday to serve at least 45 days in jail after an electronic sensor attached to his ankle alerted authorities that he had violated the terms of his original sentence, which called for him to spend four months in one of his San Pedro apartments.
San Pedro Municipal Judge Roy Ferkich imposed the jail term on Martin Cantor, 39, of Rancho Palos Verdes for violating the conditions of his house arrest by leaving the apartment to work at his father’s liquor store on a Saturday and by going grocery shopping and tending to his laundry when he was not supposed to.
Since Jan. 17, Cantor was supposed to be spending his nights and weekends in a small apartment in a building in which Los Angeles County health officials found cockroaches, rats and “a hole the size of a bathtub filled with sewage water,” according to the city attorney who prosecuted the landlord.
But Cantor, who is permitted to leave the apartment during the week to go to work at his father’s Torrance store, admitted in court Wednesday that he violated the court’s order by going to the store on Saturday, March 4.
When the electronic sensor attached to his ankle revealed that he was leaving the apartment that morning, Cantor told an employee of Electronic Supervision Services, the private company that is monitoring his movements, that it had been an emergency.
“You must understand,” Ferkich lectured Cantor on Wednesday, “that there is no emergency that will allow you to go to your business on Saturdays or Sundays. . . . If you were spending this time in County Jail, they wouldn’t let you out to do any grocery shopping or tend to an emergency.”
The judge said Cantor will be released from jail after 45 days only if he makes the required repairs to his property or sells the building at at 2319 S. Pacific Ave., which Cantor says he is trying to do. But the landlord will serve up to 180 days in jail if the repairs are not made, Ferkich said.
Under the terms of the new sentence, Cantor was also ordered to spend an extra 30 days in his slum apartment.
This is at least the second time that Cantor had been found in violation of a court order. He was sentenced to house arrest for violating his probation in a case involving three houses in Wilmington, in which county health officials found vermin and maintenance problems.
“He deserves a harsher penalty, in my opinion,” said Deputy City Atty. Juana Wedman, “but given that slum landlords are very rarely, if ever, sentenced to jail, I am satisfied.”