City electrical inspector suspended for 28 days for housing violations He faces eight charges as Bell Ave. landlord

September 24, 1998|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF

A senior Baltimore housing inspector who was punished after allegations that he had worked for and accepted cash from contractors is being suspended today without pay for violating the city's housing code.

Leon A. Peters, an electrical inspector since 1974, will remain on suspension for 28 days for a conviction Sept. 11 on eight violations of the city code as a landlord. Peters also is facing contempt charges for failing to pay $820 in fines for the housing violations.

Peters has appealed the conviction and said last night that he never accepted cash from contractors and did not deserve to be suspended.

He said that has been working hard for months to improve his rental property at 4002 Belle Ave.

"It's hard. It's very hard to come home and know that you've been suspended without pay," Peters said. "I was constantly working on this."

He is scheduled to appear in Baltimore District Court Oct. 7 to explain why he failed to pay the fines, according to court records.

"We don't countenance at all people who are charged with maintaining the housing code of Baltimore themselves being found in violation of that code," said Daniel P. Henson III, the city's housing chief. "We're giving him some time to fix the problems and think about his actions."

This is the second time Henson has suspended Peters, but the housing chief said he plans to allow Peters to return to work after the 28-day suspension if he corrects the housing violations. In March 1996, Henson suspended Peters for two months without pay after the disclosures of the close ties with construction companies he regulates. Nine months later, Henson promoted Peters and gave him a $6,000-a-year raise. "In this particular instance, I think the punishment fits the crime," Henson said.

Housing inspector William Barton filed the complaint against Peters March 30, citing 17 violations of the city's housing code at Peters' rental property. The court merged nine of the charges with the other eight and convicted Peters on those counts.

vTC The charges included failure to maintain the the property in a clean and sanitary condition; failure to repair a defective electrical fixture, rotten steps and broken railings; and failure to repaint the outside of the building.

Housing inspectors filed similar charges against Peters in 1996 over alleged problems at his rental property on Belle Avenue, but prosecutors dropped all 17 counts.

Peters said he is receiving a $127,000 loan from the Baltimore Community Development Financing Corp., a group chaired by Henson, to pay off the old mortgage and complete renovations to the Belle Avenue property.

Peters' troubles arose after an investigation by The Sun in 1996 found that he had issued building permits to contractors who employed his son, worked on the side for two contracting companies and accepted cash for taking short cuts in the permits and inspections process.

Pub Date: 9/24/98

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