COLUMBUS, Ohio — The city attorney announced Wednesday that a Columbus landlord has been found in contempt of court and sentenced to jail after he ignored multiple court orders to clean up properties and fix code violations.
Jose Villavicencio was sentenced to 90 days in jail and three of his properties are set to be boarded up for continued drug trafficking and criminal activity, according to Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein's office.
Villavicencio owns 40 properties in Columbus, court documents show. The three properties set to be boarded up are located at 315 Taylor Avenue, 929 Bellows Avenue and 637-639 South Wheatland Avenue.
“The level of inaction and indifference displayed by this landlord is among the worst I’ve seen in my time as City Attorney,” said Klein. “Landlords have a duty to their tenants and to the City. They simply cannot ignore a revolving door of criminal activity and numerous code violations and expect to be able to continue operating. If your actions threaten public health and safety, we will come after you and hold you accountable.”
Whitehall police detectives conducted multiple controlled purchases of fentanyl at the Taylor Avenue property in November of 2021, Klein's office said. Later that month, detectives executed a search warrant of the premises, recovering crack cocaine, fentanyl, cocaine, meth, suboxone strips, miscellaneous pills and drug paraphernalia, a handgun and $1,512 in cash.
Klein's office said Villavicencio, was informed of the criminal activity discovered at his property and he signed a letter noting his duty to abate the criminal activity.
In May 2021, Columbus police were called to another property owned by Villavicencio on Bellows Avenue for a reported accidental overdose. The following month, officers received a complaint of frequent narcotics sales at the property, responded to shots fired at the premises and made multiple controlled purchases of crack cocaine.
Officers obtained and executed a search warrant of the premises, seizing crack cocaine, a firearm and ammunition, Klein's office said. Months following this search, police continued to receive complaints of narcotics at the property.
Police followed up with another controlled purchase of crack cocaine at the property in January 2022.
Zach Klein's office said that his property on Wheatland Avenue has numerous code violations and has been the scene of multiple calls for service for shots fired, burglaries, suspicious persons and drug trafficking.
“This landlord has subjected tenants to deplorable living conditions and allowed criminals to use his properties as hubs to traffic fentanyl and other drugs into our streets. This is just the first step to turn these properties around and make them positive pieces for our neighborhoods again,” said Assistant City Attorney Zach Gwin.
In August 2022, police conducted a controlled purchase of fentanyl. In days following, while executing a search warrant, detectives recovered three semi-automatic firearms, crack cocaine, fentanyl, marijuana, ecstasy and more than $1,000 in cash.
Villavicencio was fined $9,000 by the court and his property companies, South German Village LLC and South German Village Medical Center, were fined $3,000 and $6,000 for dangerous criminal activity at their properties.
He continues to incur additional daily fines of $250 for each day that the following properties remain a city code violation:
- 669 South 22nd Street
- 463 South 22nd Street
- 36 East Innis Avenue
- 364-366 East Innis Avenue
- 929-931 Bellows Avenue
- 238-240 Reeb Avenue
- 841-843 Ann Street
- 377 Berkley Road
- 1037-1039 South James Road
- 1270 South Ohio Avenue
- 629-631 South Wheatland Avenue
- 637-639 South Wheatland Avenue
- 2-8 Reeb Avenue
- 289-291 Brehl Avenue
- 315-317 Taylor Avenue
- 36 East Innis Avenue
- 1931 Parsons Avenue
Columbus Code Enforcement will be conducting mandatory re-inspections at each of the properties. According to Klein's office, the properties must maintain the removal of solid waste and ensure weekly maintenance of grass and landscaping to satisfy city code requirements.