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NYS Attorney General sues Syracuse landlord for failing to address lead paint

 Four pictures show the exterior windows, porches, and doors of a dark red house before and after lead paint remediation.
Scott Willis
This poster shows lead paint remediation of a Syracuse house.

State Attorney General Letitia James is suing a Syracuse landlord for failing to properly address lead paint hazards that poisoned more than a dozen children, most of them children of color.  In the lawsuit, James accuses William D’Angelo and his company Marpat LLC of repeatedly violating lead safety laws at nearly two dozen of his Syracuse rental properties.

“Between 2016 and 2022, they have received more than 300 violations," James said in a press conference on Zoom. "For lead paint hazards, and that's more than 300 threats to the health and safety Syracuse families. Tenants reported chipping, peeling, and deteriorating paint that often went unaddressed.”

James says on the few occasions that D’Angelo attempted to mitigate the hazards, he cut corners by hiring workers who weren’t certified to work with lead paint. Now, she says, D’Angelo is starting to dump his properties. Three have sold, and five are under contract to be sold. But three of those have outstanding violations with children living at two of them.

“The office of the Attorney General will continue to monitor these transactions," James said. "We will not allow these sales to go through with all of these violations of law, both the state law, federal law, and local law.”

James says the lawsuit requires that D’Angelo immediately and properly address lead hazards at his 48 properties, including the hiring of independent monitors to oversee the work. She’s also asking the court to force D’Angelo to return rent payments to tenants and pay fines and penalties.

Dr. Travis Hobart is medical director at the Central/Eastern New York Lead Poisoning Resource Center at SUNY Upstate. He hopes the legal action sheds more light on what he says is an under recognized problem.

“When I talk to medical students, young doctors about lead poisoning, they often give the response of surprise that this is still a problem. And unfortunately it is," Hobart said. "Too many children in our community are being exposed. When I talk to these families, they know the problem too well.”

Exposure to lead-based paint can cause severe irreversible neurological damage, especially among children under age six. AG James says she’s also suing Syracuse landlord Todd Hobbs, whose properties she alleges poisoned 11 children.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at