Lawsuit Claims Opa-locka Slumlord Stole Thousands While Tenants Died
Residents at Opa-locka's Gardens Apartments -- perhaps the city's sketchiest property -- endured 5 murders, 656 assaults, 34 robberies, 25 shootings, and 80 stolen cars during one four-year stretch, according to police records.
And the apartments remain the hottest spot in the city for cops, says Capt. Rex Galindo, a spokesman for Opa-locka Police. "It generates constant calls, for domestic disturbances, loud music, burglaries, drug activities, everything," he says.
Now the lawyers representing one of the men killed there claim in a lawsuit that owner Dilip Barot fed the violence by pocketing $150,000 every year in taxpayer money earmarked for security.
The evidence was strong enough to convince a circuit court judge last week to allow the lawyers to ask a jury for punitive damages.
"Envision the worst slumlord you've ever seen or heard about, take away any redeeming factors they may have, and you've got Dilip Barot," says Christopher Marlowe, one of the lawyers suing Barot and his company, Creative Choice Homes II.
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