WASHINGTON — A D.C. landlord facing ongoing lawsuits with the Attorney General has been arrested for failing to pay for repairs, according to court documents.
The documents said Mehrdad Valibeigi with the Bennington Corporation has been charged with Contempt of Court and is being held in the D.C. jail after Valibeigi failed to make a payment required by the judge's order.
A spokesperson for Attorney General Karl Racine said his office first filed a complaint against Valibeigi in October 2018 for allegedly collecting rent, but failing to maintain his apartment buildings and make necessary repairs.
The AG requested a Receiver for the 35 units that comprise the "Bennington Apartments," located at 4480 C Street, 4459 Benning Road SE and 4569 Benning Road SE in Ward 7. Court documents show Racine also asked for restitution for those tenants as well as penalties for the owner.
Tenants quoted in the initial complaint said nails were coming out of their ceilings, roaches had consistently been a problem for decades, and mice found their way into apartments through multiple holes in the walls and sinks.
Documents state Valibeigi was supposed to deposit $25,000 into an account for the Receiver to fund repairs by November 2019. He paid $5,000, but still has not paid the rest, according to the documents
The judge said in the most recent January hearing that if Valibeigi did not fulfill the court's order to pay the remaining $20,000 by Feb. 24, he would be arrested.
The Attorney General's office said Valibeigi failed to comply and was taken into custody on Monday, where documents state he will be held until he has paid the outstanding amount.
D.C. jail records confirm that as of Wednesday night, Valibeigi remains in jail.
Court documents show that a status hearing is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 28.
The OAG filed another lawsuit against Valibeigi, and another company attached to him, Tavana Corporation, in June 2019 for the same problems at a different property, in Ward 5's Ivy City.
The complaint alleges that he collected rent from tenants living at the Westwood Apartments but did not fix the persistent problems of "dangerous and unsanitary conditions throughout, including severe infestations of mice, roaches and bed bugs, lack of working heat, electrical problems, leaking and collapsing ceilings, mold, and a lack of fire safety systems, which violate the District's housing and fire codes."
WUSA 9 recently reported on another landlord, referred to by the AG's office as a "slumlord," that was part of the AG's October 2018 complaints. A lawsuit against Joseph Kisha with Forest Ridge/The Vistas alleged multiple health and safety violations.
Since the initial filing, Kisha has declared bankruptcy, per the AG, and has not faced any jail time.
Tenants have told WUSA 9's Jess Arnold that they're still waiting for repairs.