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Community News: Mid-City

WESTLAKE : Apartment Landlord Under House Arrest

August 22, 1993|JAKE DOHERTY

An apartment building owner is serving 45 days of house arrest at the building, monitored by an electronic device fitted to his ankle, after his conviction of building and safety violations last month.

Los Angeles Municipal Judge Leland Harris sentenced Ronald J. Olenczuk, 62, of Palos Verdes Estates, to live in a room on the fifth floor of the six-story, 96-unit building at 744 S. Beacon Ave.

Olenczuk, who began his sentence July 28, pleaded no contest to 10 violations, said Deputy City Atty. Michael R. Wilkinson.

Olenczuk must remain in his room from 7 p.m. until 7 a.m. each day. During the other hours he may leave to supervise the required building repairs, Wilkinson said.

Olenczuk was fined last year for 12 code violations at the building, including broken fire doors, fire escape drop-ladders that did not work, blocked fire-sprinkler controls, broken windows, broken and missing smoke detectors and exposed live electrical wiring, according to the city attorney's office.

Eric Davis, Olenczuk's attorney, blamed the violations on what he called shoddy work by contractors who made repairs required by county seismic codes. Disputes with the contractors have delayed the work, Davis said.

Since Olenczuk, a retired engineer, bought the building in 1979, he has made repairs requested by tenants in a timely manner, Davis said. Most of the violations cited were in unoccupied units, he said.

Olenczuk "is not a slumlord," Davis said. "He's put his entire life savings into the building and now every dollar he makes he's putting into the building." Davis said the building, built in 1927, is "as safe as any building in the city."

As part of his sentence, Olenczuk must pay $1,774 in fines and perform 100 hours of community service. Harris also placed him on three years' summary probation. If the repairs are not finished by Sept. 22, Olenczuk could be sentenced to jail, Wilkinson said.

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