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Problem-Plagued Landlord Appears In Court
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The landlord whose Franklinton rental home caught fire Christmas Eve, killing three people, was in court Wednesday to face unrelated misdemeanor charges. WOSU reports the Worthington man received an unwelcome reception by area neighbors and grieving family.
“You kept lying to my brother. You’re a murder. You lie!”
The sister of fire victim Demetrius Chappel was waiting for Sam Vasirani.
“You lie! You know it’s your fault! And then you want to say my brother was a squatter? He paid you rent. He paid you rent!”
The landlord did not look at the woman as she was escorted out of Judge Harland Hale’s court room, clutching a picture of her brother. Chappel was one of three people, including a toddler, who died in the Wisconsin Avenue house fire caused by a space heater.
Sam Vazirani has not been charged in connection with that house, but he pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor code violation at a different rental property. He admitted to failing to comply with an emergency order to vacate a house on Clarendon Avenue in mid-December because it had no heat.
Vazirani faces up to two months in jail and a $500 fine, and he cannot rent the house until he makes more repairs.
Outside the courthouse, Franklinton area neighbors silently marched up and down the sidewalk. They carried large signs that read “Fair Housing for Franklinton,” “Love Your Neighbor, Not Your Wallet,” and “Fix Code Violations.”
Pamela Francisco’s daughter, Jerrica Francisco, and her 4-year-old grandson, Dashawn, died in the Wisconsin Avenue house fire. Pamela Francisco wants Vazirani charged in connection with that house.
“He need to get more than just a slap on his wrist, for real. I lost my kids. I lost my babies,” Pamela Francisco said.
Tenants say Vazirani rents other properties with serious problems. Protestor Ashley Laughlin wants tougher enforcement.
“There needs to be a message loud and clear that this kind of behavior in Franklinton won’t be tolerated. We don’t want negligent landlords renting to our neighbors,” Laughlin said.
Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien said his office is investigating whether additional charges can be filed.