A N.J. landlord will pay $4.5M to settle DOJ’s lawsuit and an additional $107K civil penalty – the biggest amount authorized less than the Reasonable Housing Act.

ELIZABETH, N.J. – A New Jersey landlord has agreed to pay $4.5 million to settle a lawsuit alleging he demanded sexual favors from tenants to continue to keep their housing and evicting all those that resisted his developments.

The settlement agreed to by Joseph Centanni, a landlord who has owned hundreds of rental units in and all around Elizabeth, N.J, is the biggest settlement the U.S. Justice Section suggests it’s secured about alleged sexual harassment in housing.

“The require for housing is a fundamental human require,” Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig of the District of New Jersey, claimed in a statement. “Joseph Centanni exploited that require, and the essential federal systems that try to meet it, by threatening to deny his victims a roof about their heads if they did not post to his needs for sexual acts.”

Raymond Londa, an legal professional for Centanni, instructed CNN that his client “did not in any way form or type confess or accept wrongdoing or liability” and settled to stay away from drawn-out litigation. “He continues to deny the allegations built from him in this and in any other instances,” claimed Londa.

The settlement income will compensate adult males and women allegedly focused by Centanni, and awaits approval by the U.S. District Courtroom for the District of New Jersey.

The department’s lawsuit was brought less than the Reasonable Housing Act and alleges that Centanni harassed tenants for at minimum 15 years. According to the lawsuit, Centanni took applicants and tenants to empty residences, laundry or storage rooms exactly where he would check with for massages, expose himself, need oral sex or drive them to contact him.

The lawsuit alleges he demanded sexual favors to get or continue to keep housing, as properly as decreased rent. Furthermore, Centanni will pay a $107,050 civil penalty, the biggest amount authorized less than the Reasonable Housing Act.

The department claimed Centanni participated in the federal Housing Alternative Voucher Program (typically identified as Area 8) that compensated him somewhere around $102,000 every month.

In March, the Union County Prosecutor’s Office environment billed Centanni with committing sexual crimes from thirteen tenants.

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