BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — A Buffalo landlord is accused of exposing tenants to unsafe levels of lead.
The Erie County District Attorney's Office announced 53-year-old MD J. Abedin was arraigned this morning in Buffalo City Court on one count of Willful Violation of Health Laws, Public Health Law Section 12-B (1), an unclassified misdemeanor.
Abedin is accused of continuing to rent his residential property at 72 Hammerschmidt Avenue between July 2019 and November 2021 in violation of an order by the Erie County Department of Health after a child tenant tested positive for lead exposure.
The district attorney's office provided a timeline of events:
- July 3, 2019 - The Erie County Health Department was notified about a child with an elevated blood lead level who resided at the Hammerschmidt Avenue home.
- July 11, 2019 - A public health sanitarian inspected the residence and attempted to work with the landlord to correct the lead-related violations.
- October 22, 2020 - Due to the property not being in full compliance with the law, a “Do Not Allow Occupancy of Dwelling Unit” notice was posted on the unoccupied residence indicating that the property must remain vacant until re-inspected and approved for occupancy by the Erie County Department of Health.
- November 6, 2020 - A public health sanitarian allegedly returned to the residence and reported that the “Do Not Occupy” notice had been removed from the front door. The house was found to be occupied. The sanitarian re-posted the notice on the house.
- December 18, 2020 - A public health sanitarian allegedly returned to the residence and observed that the “Do Not Occupy” notice had been removed from the front door a second time. The house was found to be occupied. The sanitarian re-posted the notice on the house again.
Abedin is scheduled to return March 31 for further proceedings and was released on his own recognizance as the charge is non-qualifying for bail.
This is the second lead exposure case to be prosecuted by the district attorney’s office since the law was enacted in 2014. In March 2019, an Amherst man who owned property on Fargo Avenue in Buffalo was sentenced to 90 days in jail after two children were hospitalized for lead poisoning two years apart.
I want the residents of Erie County to know that I take this crime seriously as there are potential lifelong consequences for the children who are exposed to this toxic substance. Any landlord who fails to comply with public health law and knowingly exposes their tenants, especially innocent children, to lead will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I want to thank the Erie County Department of Health for the work they do every day to keep our residents safe and healthy while providing my office with the necessary information to prosecute anyone who refused to comply with these laws. I encourage anyone who has a concern about lead in their home to contact the Department of Health immediately.
Erie County residents who may be concerned about lead exposure are encouraged to contact the Erie County Department of Health by calling 716-961-6800.