(WNY News Now) – NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James, Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon, and Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh announced that they have reached a settlement-in-principle with Syracuse landlord William D’Angelo and his company Marpat LLC for failing to properly address lead-based paint hazards at rental properties he owned. As a result of the agreement, D’Angelo will pay $310,000, which will be used for a tenant relief fund that will provide payments to families of the children who were lead-poisoned in the D’Angelo properties. The funds will also be used to identify and resolve all potential lead hazards at D’Angelo’s properties with a history of lead violations.
“William D’Angelo cut corners and failed to address serious lead hazards at his properties, putting countless children and their families in danger,” said Attorney General James. “In Syracuse and throughout New York state, the life-changing health impacts of lead exposure disproportionately affect children of color. My office will always fight to protect children from lead poisoning and work with our partners in government and advocacy to keep families safe. I am grateful to County Executive McMahon and Mayor Walsh for standing with us against this public health crisis.”
In July 2023, Attorney General James, County Executive McMahon, and Mayor Walsh filed a lawsuit against D’Angelo and his company, alleging that he repeatedly and persistently violated lead safety laws at nearly two dozen rental properties in Syracuse. Over the past eight years, there were at least 360 violations of lead safety laws at properties owned by D’Angelo. At least 16 children, 11 of them children of color, were poisoned by lead while living at these properties.
Lead-based paint in residential housing is a pervasive problem in Syracuse, where 81 percent of the housing stock was built before lead-based paint was banned in New York in 1970. Lead poisoning in Onondaga County is highest among children of color, the majority of whom live in Syracuse. In 2022, 510 children in Onondaga County had elevated levels of lead in their blood, and 90 percent of those children lived in Syracuse. More than 11 percent of the Black children tested in 2021 had elevated blood lead levels, compared to just two percent of white children tested.
Over the last 30 years, D’Angelo has owned and managed at least 48 rental properties with at least 116 individual rental units in Syracuse. According to city and county records, all of D’Angelo’s rental properties were built prior to 1940, and therefore are all presumed to contain lead-based paint. Most of these properties are in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color.
D’Angelo currently owns 39 rental properties in and around Syracuse, 22 of which have had lead-related violations. As a result of the settlement-in-principle, D’Angelo will pay $310,000: $80,000 will go to current and former tenants harmed by lead paint exposure at the properties he owned over the past eight years and $230,000 will fund the identification and resolution of lead hazards at the 22 currently owned properties with lead-related violations. Further, D’Angelo will be barred from selling any of these properties without the OAG’s approval until all lead hazards have been resolved.
Attorney General James thanks Onondaga County and the City of Syracuse for their close collaboration and partnership on this matter. The OAG will continue to work with local partners statewide to combat childhood lead poisoning.
“My administration has fought to secure millions of dollars in historic funding to address the scourge that lead has had on our community. In order to make real progress, however, we need partners at all levels of government,” said Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon. “Thank you to Attorney General James and Mayor Walsh for their efforts to ensure we have a unified front that holds irresponsible landlords accountable while making the necessary improvements to provide safe housing for members of our community.”
“With the help of Attorney General James, this settlement sends a powerful message to careless landlords: you can’t escape your responsibility to provide a safe and healthy living environment for your tenants,” said Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh. “In partnership with Attorney General James and County Executive McMahon, we will continue to use the tools and authority we have available to hold bad landlords accountable and protect children and families from the effects of lead exposure.”
This settlement-in-principle is the latest in Attorney General James’ efforts to hold landlords and property managers accountable for violating childhood lead poisoning prevention laws in New York. In July 2023, Attorney General James filed a lawsuit against Syracuse landlord Todd Hobbs for repeated and persistent violations of lead safety laws at more than a dozen rental properties. In June 2022, Attorney General James shut down Syracuse landlord John Kiggins and his company, Endzone Properties, Inc., for repeatedly violating lead paint laws and failing to address lead paint hazards, which resulted in the lead poisoning of 18 children living in Endzone properties in Syracuse.
In March 2023, Attorney General James sued Buffalo landlord Farhad Raiszadeh for repeated and flagrant violations of lead safety laws at dozens of properties in East Buffalo. In November 2022, Attorney General James secured $5.1 million in restitution and penalties to fund ongoing childhood lead poisoning prevention programs administered by the City of Buffalo and Erie County, as a result of a September 2020 lawsuit against a group of individuals and companies in the Buffalo region for illegally allowing lead paint-related hazards to proliferate in their rental properties. In March 2022, Attorney General James led a multistate coalition in calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to strengthen protections against lead poisoning, particularly for children living in low-income communities and communities of color. In September 2021, Attorney General James announced an agreement in her lawsuit against Chestnut Holdings of New York, Inc., a property management corporation, over its failures to protect children from lead paint hazards in New York City. Also in September 2021, Attorney General James reached a pre-suit agreement with A&E Real Estate Holdings, LLC to ensure that children living in its New York City apartments are protected from dangerous lead-based paint.
This matter was handled by Assistant Attorneys General Patrick Omilian, Abigail Katowitz, and Steve Nguyen, Special Assistant Attorney General Sharde Slaw, Environmental Scientist Jennifer Nalbone, and Project Assistant Isabel Murphy of the Environmental Protection Bureau, under the supervision of Bureau Chief Lemuel M. Srolovic. Assistant Attorney General Melanie Carden of the Syracuse Regional Office also assisted in this matter under the supervision of Assistant Attorney General in Charge Ed Thompson and Deputy Attorney General for Regional Affairs Jill Faber. The Environmental Protection Bureau is a part of the Division for Social Justice, which is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General Meghan Faux. The Division for Regional Affairs and the Division for Social Justice are both overseen by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.