Defaulting Lawmaker’s Home A Public Nuisance
AUGUST 15, 2008
The deadbeat California congresswoman, who abused her political power to get back one of the properties she let foreclose, is in trouble again for allowing a house in an upper middle-class neighborhood to become a rat-infested public nuisance.
The Sacramento Code Enforcement Department has declared the home of Democrat Laura Richardson, who represents parts of Los Angeles County’s poorest black neighborhoods in the state House, an official public nuisance and threatened to fine her as much as $5,000 a month if she doesn’t fix it.
Neighbors actually called police to complain about the abandoned house with a broken gate, dead grass and plants, boarded up doors and windows covered with brown paper. The city’s code enforcement inspectors visited the property last month and found “junk and debris” in the driveway and “rotting fruit on the ground in the rear yard which creates rodent harborage.”
The home is one of three that Richardson let foreclose after using it to get cash to finance her political career. The two other houses are located in the southern California cities of San Pedro and Long Beach. In all, Richardson borrowed about $200,000 from the properties before defaulting on the loans. She also owes thousands more in property taxes.
In May, the three-bedroom, one and a half-bath Sacramento home now known as an eye sore was sold to a contractor at a foreclosure auction for $388,000. Richardson also owed Sacramento County nearly $10,000 in property taxes. The contractor recorded the home’s deed on May 19 and he painted it, laid tile and redid the landscaping.
But Richardson wanted the house back and utilized her political clout with the lender, Washington Mutual. In what experts unrelated to this case call an unheard of action, the bank filed a letter of rescission of the foreclosure sale and demanded the new buyer return the keys. Richardson soon got the house back.
With an annual legislative salary of $169,300 you would think Richardson could afford to fix the house she bullied the bank to regain. The former Long Beach city councilwoman is up for reelection in November but has no viable opponent and is expected to cruise to a victory.
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