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Oft-Convicted Slumlord Pleads No Contest

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A man who has had more slum violations than any other landlord in Los Angeles pleaded no contest Tuesday to criminal slum violations at a four-story apartment building he controls in the MacArthur Park area, prosecutors said.

Lance J. Robbins, 52, of Playa del Rey entered the plea during his arraignment in Los Angeles Superior Court on three fire code violations at the 63-unit apartment building in the 1700 block of James Wood Boulevard.

The misdemeanor charges stemmed from a Fire Department inspection in which Robbins was cited for numerous violations, including an iron fence blocking an emergency exit, an inoperable fire escape ladder, a missing fire extinguisher, an improper fire exit door and hazardous combustible waste, prosecutors said.

Richard Bobb, supervisor of the housing enforcement section of the city attorney’s office, said Robbins is not expected to get the maximum misdemeanor sentence of six months in jail and a $2,700 fine, because he corrected the violations.

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“We felt some punishment was warranted because he didn’t comply during the initial period,” he said.

Robbins was ordered to return to court Feb. 6 for sentencing. The corporate owner of the apartment house, Beachwood Properties Inc., which is charged with eight fire code violations, was ordered to appear in court Feb. 6.

Robbins also faces a lawsuit that accuses him of defrauding the Department of Water and Power of millions of dollars and escaping responsibility for substandard conditions in several buildings.

On Nov. 28, City Atty. James K. Hahn, Bet Tzedek Legal Services and the law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher joined forces in the lawsuit against Robbins and dozens of his “alter egos.”

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The lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court seeks $3 million in unpaid DWP bills and an injunction to block Robbins from retaliating against tenants who complain about conditions. It alleges that Robbins transferred buildings among straw owners whom he controls and used them to file foreclosure actions against himself, officials said.

Robbins was convicted seven times between 1984 and 1995, Bobb said.

Robbins could not be reached for comment Tuesday.


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