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March 14, 2001
WASHINGTON-AREA LANDLORD CHARGED WITH LYING ABOUT LEAD PAINT HAZARDS, THREATENING THE HEALTH OF CHILDREN
WASHINGTON - A Washington-area landlord was formally charged today with obstructing justice and falsifying documents when he allegedly failed to notify tenants of the presence of lead paint hazards in his properties. Today's indictment was the result of a joint investigation by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency.
A federal grand jury returned a 15-count indictment against David D. Nuyen, 65, of Silver Spring, Maryland. Nuyen owns and manages 15 low-income rental properties in the District and Maryland. Today's indictment is the first-ever criminal prosecution in the United States related to the "Disclosure Rule" under the Lead Hazard Reduction Act of 1992.
The Disclosure Rule requires landlords of pre-1978 residential properties to provide prospective tenants with notice of known lead hazards. Lead was banned for residential use in 1978.
According to the indictment, the Department of Housing and Urban Development contacted Nuyen in September 1998 about his compliance with the Lead Disclosure Rule. The indictment charges Nuyen gave HUD backdated forms containing "false, fictitious and fraudulent statements."
Lead is highly toxic and can lead to serious health consequences, particularly in children under the age of six. Lead can damage a child's kidneys and central nervous system and cause anemia. Elevated lead levels in children can lead to permanent brain damage and cause a variety of learning disabilities and behavioral problems. At very high levels, lead can cause coma, convulsions and even death.
The maximum penalty for each count in the indictment is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.