LEICESTER, Mass. — A Leicester property owner has pleaded guilty and been sentenced for fraudulently claiming that one of his properties had been de-leaded and for endangering the children who lived in the property.
Jaroslaw Pianka, 42, of North Oxford, pleaded guilty Thursday during his trial in Worcester Superior Court to charges of child endangerment, larceny by false pretenses, and uttering (2 counts).
“This defendant deceived tenants about the presence of lead in his properties, thereby endangering the health of those tenants, including two little girls,” said Attorney General Martha Coakley. “This case makes clear that a landlord who fails to meet his or her responsibilities under the lead laws may be held criminally responsible for child endangerment. We applaud the Leicester Board of Health and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health for helping bring this case forward.”
On Tuesday, Superior Court Judge Richard Tucker sentenced Pianka to three years of probation, with the condition that he disclose to the Department of Public Health all properties he owns and to de-lead the properties as directed by the department. Tucker also ordered him to complete 300 hours of community service. The Commonwealth recommended that Pianka be sentenced to 18 months in the House of Correction, 59 days to serve, with the balance suspended for three years, and to pay $9,825 in restitution to the victims.
Pianka, the owner of two properties on Dale Court in Leicester, failed to comply with lead laws by failing to disclose what he knew about lead paint in the properties, failing to inspect the properties for lead paint, and then submitting fraudulent certificates of lead compliance instead of having the properties properly de-leaded.
According to evidence presented at trial, a family with two children under the age of six rented one of the Dale Court properties from Pianka in February 2007 based upon his verbal representation that the property had been de-leaded. Massachusetts Law requires owners of properties containing dangerous levels of lead to abate or contain lead whenever a child under six years of age resides in the property. Two years later, the family performed a home lead test which revealed lead in the property, and contacted the Leicester Board of Health to request a lead determination.
Further inspection of the property by the Board of Health found lead in the children’s bedroom and a bathroom in 2009, the Board of Health issued an order to Pianka to correct the lead in the property. While Pianka then provided the family and the Board of Health with a document purporting to be a letter of full de-leading compliance for the property, a subsequent review of the letter conducted by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Child Lead Poisoning Prevention Program determined the documentation to be fraudulent.
Pianka also pled guilty to filing a fabricated de-leading certificate for a second property on Dale Court in Leicester in March of March 2009.