Landlord sentenced to 60 days in jail over Champaign case
CHAMPAIGN – A local landlord received jail time and a fine Wednesday following a conviction earlier this year for renting a condemned apartment.
Bernard Ramos, 36, was convicted of criminal housing management on March 3 for renting an apartment in 2008 with health and safety hazards at 709 W. Church St., C.
At Wednesday's sentence hearing, Judge Richard Klaus ordered Ramos to serve 60 days in jail and pay a $1,000 fine. He was immediately taken into custody.
He faced up to 364 days in jail, two years probation and a $2,500 fine for the misdemeanor conviction.
"The court believes there has been a pattern of offenses, a pattern of code violations and a pattern of renting condemned units to individuals," Klaus said.
In his remarks to the court, Ramos said he had never "neglected the welfare" of the tenant and accused the city of going after him because he is Latino.
They'll "do everything to put me in jail and take away my business," he said.
Ramos' attorney, Donald Parkinson, argued against jail time or fines, citing Ramos' lack of prior convictions, lack of money and an inspection by the Illinois Department of Public Health of the same property in July 2008 that approved the apartment for occupancy.
The state health department inspects properties that will be used to house migrant workers.
Citing a handwritten document Ramos had the Church Street tenant sign stating she would not sue him after he placed her in a second apartment, Assistant State's Attorney Scott Larson argued that Ramos takes advantage of people who have little or no recourse to help themselves.
"The public needs to be protected from Mr. Ramos and his business practices," Larson said.
Ramos and his father, Eduardo, own several rental properties in Champaign, Urbana and Rantoul. They were fined more than $15,000 last year by the city of Champaign for renting out two condemned apartments on Green Street.
The state Department of Public Health also has a civil case pending against the pair for failing to legally repair a septic system at Cherry Orchard Village apartments, located on U.S. 45 just south of Rantoul village limits.
The state first noted leaking sewage in 2007, a violation of county code. Since then, Bernard and Eduardo Ramos did not obtain a construction permit to make repairs nor are they licensed to do so, according to the state's complaint. The state is seeking an injunction to bar them from renting out the property and using the septic system until repairs are made by a licensed contractor. They also face fines up to $500 per violation.