Lead paint lands Baltimore landlord a year and a day in jail
The owner of 175 rental units in Baltimore was sentenced to one year and one day in prison last Monday after being issued more than 20 violations from city officials pertaining to the presence of lead paint in his properties.
The Baltimore Sun reports that over the past three decades, 11 instances of lead poisoning in children have been reported in units owned by the negligent landlord, 69-year-old Cephus Murrell.
Murrell had been landlord of the units since 1974, all of which had been built before the banning of lead paint in 1977, according to the news source.
The paper noted that state officials have asked Murrell repeatedly to fix the problem over the years, even jailing him for several days in 2010 after a Baltimore Circuit Court judge found him guilty of non-compliance of orders from city inspectors to have the lead paint removed.
In addition, Murrell was charged with four violations of the Toxic Substances Control Act by a federal court back in July of 2011 to which he plead guilty of three, the Sun reports.
Murrell says he meant no harm and told Judge Benson Legg that he was well-intentioned in addressing the issue but admittedly should have taken more care in the lead paints removal. The source reports that Murrell filed for bankruptcy in March and his lawyer says he has since handed over his units to a trustee.
Although lead paint has been banned nationally for over thirty years, The Sun reports there were still more than 500 cases of lead poisoning in Maryland reported in 2010 alone, though this is only the second criminal prosecution conducted in Maryland on the federal level pertaining to the use of lead paint.
Lead paint ingestion is especially harmful for children. If ingested at a young age, lead paint has been linked to learning and behavioral disabilities. Homeowners who live in residences built before the ban in 1977 should contact home inspection contractors to make sure their families are not at risk.