A Glendale man who refused to pay $1,000 relocation fees to two tenants he evicted from a Tujunga apartment building has become the first landlord convicted under a city law requiring such payments, the city attorney's office said.
Arthur Segien, 75, was sentenced to pay the $1,000 to each of the evicted tenants, plus $1,700 in fines, or spend 32 days in jail.
Los Angeles Municipal Judge Ronald Coen also sentenced Segien to two years' probation and 180 days in jail but suspended that part of the sentence. The judge warned, however, that Segien could be jailed if he fails to pay $1,000 each to Jewel and Arthur Buhl and Sally Copson, tenants he evicted in February.
Segien, who served as his own attorney, regularly appears at Glendale City Council meetings to speak on issues or deliver patriotic recitations. His wife said that he would appeal the Nov. 18 sentence.
It took a jury 10 minutes to convict Segien of two counts of misdemeanor failure to pay relocation assistance, a court clerk said.
It was the first prosecution under a new city law requiring landlords to pay up to $2,500 for relocation costs to tenants evicted for building rehabilitation, closure or conversion. The law, passed Feb. 10, also applies to landlords who evict tenants so that the landlords or their family members can move into the units, said Deputy City Atty. William C. Cullen, who prosecuted Segien.
Eviction Notices Sent
Segien served his tenants an eviction notice Feb. 1, asking them to vacate his property by March 1 because he intended to perform more than $10,000 worth of renovations that would take longer than 25 days, the conditions specified by city rent-control laws as necessary for eviction, Cullen said.
Segien contended that the law did not apply to him because it was passed nine days after he served the notices.
However, Cullen successfully argued in court that the City Council specified that the law should apply to all those who were tenants when it was passed.
Cullen said Segien was told he could avoid prosecution by paying the assistance fees but Segien replied that he would not pay unless ordered to by the U. S. Supreme Court.
"He told me to take him to court, so we did," said Cullen, who described the case as having ramifications for all of Los Angeles.
Segien could not be reached for comment.