Friday, August 12, 2011

Baltimore Feds Score Guilty Plea From Local Landlord Over Improper Lead-Based Paint Abatement At Rentals Throughout City

From the Office of the U.S. Attorney (Baltimore, Maryland):

  • Cephus Murrell, age 68, of Catonsville, Maryland, pleaded guilty [] to three misdemeanor counts of violating the Toxic Substances Control Act, in connection with improper lead paint abatement at rental properties owned and managed by Murrell, as well as failure to disclose to tenants the presence of documented lead-based paint hazards. Murrell owns and manages approximately 175 rental housing units throughout Baltimore.


  • Cephus Murrell placed Baltimore children at risk of permanent injuries by violating federal law and ignoring repeated orders to comply with lead paint regulations,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “It is unacceptable in 2011 for pregnant women and children to be exposed to lead paint in violation of the law.”


  • [Among a slew of other things,(1)] Murrell provided [the Maryland Department of the Environment] with a Project Notification Form for this project in which he falsely stated that a particular supervisor would be on site at the particular place and date, when in fact no supervisor was on site, also in violation of the lead-paint abatement regulations.

  • Murrell admits that there were several instances in which he falsely certified that workers would be conducting lead abatement work and that a particular supervisor would be on site to supervise the work, when in fact, no supervisor was on site.

For the U.S. Attorney press release, see Baltimore City Landlord Pleads Guilty To Lead Based Paint Violations In Rental Properties He Owns And Manages (Previously Cited by the State for Numerous Lead Paint Violations and Documented Children with Elevated Lead Blood Levels Living in His Properties).

(1) According to the press release, Murrell also admitted that he and his company failed to disclose to tenants the presence of documented lead-based paint hazards when they rented units he owned and managed. Many of these units had a history of lead-based paint problems that had been documented by MDE.

Despite these findings and prior enforcement actions by the State and municipal agencies, Murrell did not provide tenants with the required Lead-Based Paint Notification Disclosure Form and failed to:

  • give prospective tenants an EPA-approved information pamphlet on identifying and controlling lead-based paint hazards;
  • disclose to prospective tenants any known information concerning lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards, the location of those hazards, and the condition of the relevant surfaces;
  • provide prospective tenants with any records and reports on lead-based paint and/or lead-based paint hazards; and
  • include an attachment to the lease (or to insert relevant language in the lease itself) which provides a Lead Warning Statement and confirms that the landlord has complied with all notification requirements.

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