Family faces housing charges

Former Rosedale residents accused of racial harassment

September 11, 1999|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,SUN STAFF

A former Rosedale couple and their son were charged yesterday with discriminatory housing practices by the Maryland Commission on Human Relations for allegedly harassing their black next-door neighbors in an attempt to force them out of the community.

If found guilty of breaking the state's fair-housing law, Benjamin and Gloria Mosetti and son Kenneth -- who are white -- could be forced to pay damages to their neighbor along with $10,000 in civil penalties.

A public hearing will be set before the state's office of administrative hearings.

A statement of charges says that the Mosetti family used racial epithets to refer to neighbor Marcia Price and her family, threatened them with violence, chased Price with a shovel and sprayed her with a hose while she was pregnant.

Price has remained in her home.

The case began in 1996 when the Mosettis moved next door to the Prices in the 8600 block of Wilenoak Court. Price went to her new neighbors to complain about their large dog running loose.

Benjamin Mosetti reportedly responded with racial slurs and curses and told Price that if she had a problem, she should build a fence. She did.

In interviews with neighbors and in Baltimore County police records, the commission investigation found that the Mosettis constantly called Price by a racial epithet and threatened that if she didn't move out right away, she would be dragged behind a car and killed.

Benjamin Mosetti also told Price's 12-year-old son that he would find his mother hanging from a tree in their yard. When county police were called to the scene, the Mosettis made overt racist statements to officers, according to the charges.

Kenneth Mosetti, who monitored the Prices' back yard by videotape 24 hours a day, told officers that "black people should not live in a white neighborhood and [Price] should be arrested."

Benjamin Mosetti also told officers "that if this doesn't get settled that someone was going to die," according to the statement of charges.

The commission has asked an administrative judge to order the Mosettis to cease harassing Price and her family and to order them to pay damages, including Price's expenses in building a fence and installing a security system to protect her family.

In March, Benjamin Mosetti was charged with second-degree assault, assault with a deadly weapon, harassment and also with committing a racially motivated hate crime, under a little-used state statute.

He was found criminally guilty and sentenced to 18 months in the Baltimore County Detention Center and ordered to cease all contact with Price. Released on supervised probation, Benjamin Mosetti moved his family to an unknown location in Baltimore, just over the county line from Rosedale.

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