Posted by: Patricia Salkin | June 14, 2017

NY Appellate Court Upholds Judgments of Conviction Against Owner of Rental Property Finding Search Warrant Permissible

After executing a search warrant at a property owned by defendant, the People charged defendant with eight violations of the Code of the Town of Huntington. The property contained two connected structures and a third outlying structure, and was divided by a fence. The People alleged that the residential portions of two of the structures had been illegally subdivided to create additional residential units and that defendant had illegally subdivided the property into two independent tracts. The District Court denied defendant’s pretrial motion to controvert the search warrant and to suppress any evidence from its execution. Following a nonjury trial, defendant was convicted of failing to register a dwelling as a rental property two charges of maintaining a premises without a certificate of occupancy, and one charge of altering a premises without a building permit.
On appeal, defendant argued that the motion to controvert the search warrant should have been granted based on material misrepresentations by a Town of Huntington ordinance inspector in support of the warrant application, and because the enforcement was based on the Town’s displeasure with defendant’s having rented to members of a minority group. The court, however, could not find any misstatements of fact in support of the warrant application sufficient to merit the warrant’s rejection. Here, the record indicated that there was reasonable cause to believe that zoning violations had occurred at the premises and that evidence of same would be found there. As such, defendant’s factual representations in support of his claim of discriminatory enforcement were insufficient to create a triable issue as to whether the Town’s investigation was based on “impermissible considerations”. The court found that the allegations of defendant’s principal in his supporting affidavit were merely his personal opinions and impressions as to the Town of Huntington’s “attempt to harass him.” Accordingly, the judgments of conviction were affirmed.
People v JCRL Development Corp., 2017 WL 2380823 (NY App. Term 2 Dept., 9th and 10th Dist. unrep. 5/23/2017)

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