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Ex-Tenants Win Case in Court, but Relocation Check Bounces

Times Staff Writer

The displaced tenants of convicted slumlord Martin Cantor, who celebrated a victory Tuesday when a judge ordered their former landlord to pay them $4,000 apiece in relocation fees, discovered Thursday that their troubles weren’t over.

The check bounced.

“I’m so angry right now I can’t even think,” said Dee Petty, a counselor at Toberman Settlement House in San Pedro. Petty has been assisting the four tenants since March, when Cantor promised them the money if they moved out of an apartment building he owned at 2319 S. Pacific Ave.

Said tenant Josephine Shields: “This is a lot of garbage.”

Cantor’s lawyer, Michael Stephenson, said in an interview that the $16,000--which he gave to the tenants Tuesday in the form of a bank draft--would become available today. Stephenson complained that the tenants deposited the draft too quickly, before Cantor had a chance to arrange for the money to be transferred into his account.

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“No one expected that . . . immediately they would run out and try to cash the draft,” Stephenson said. “That wasn’t foreseen realistically by anyone.”

The deputy city attorney who prosecuted Cantor said that, if the tenants do not receive the money by today, she will ask San Pedro Municipal Court Judge Roy Ferkich to issue a warrant for Cantor’s arrest.

On Tuesday, Ferkich sentenced Cantor to 45 days in jail, beginning Oct. 2, for maintaining slum conditions at the Pacific Avenue apartment house. Had Cantor’s lawyer not turned over the $16,000 bank draft, Ferkich would have sentenced Cantor to six months in jail.

“I was thinking in my mind that, since the judge ordered him to give up the money that he would try to do right to keep from going to jail,” said a frustrated Shields late Thursday afternoon. “But evidently, he don’t care one way or the other.”


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