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Plus $12,500 fine for 25 code violations

Landlords of Jackson County Kansas , Joe Lambe, Staff Writer

Kansas City's municipal housing judge sentenced a landlord to more than three years in jail, the second crackdown on an alleged housing code violator in less than a month. The judge sentenced Charles Willard, 59, to 3½ years in jail and fined him $12,500.

Lawyers said that may have set some kind of a record for sentence levied by a municipal judge. The maximum sentence on any city charge is 6 months in jail and a $500 fine.

Municipal Judge A. Wayne Cagle fined Willard for all 25 violations, and sentenced him to jail time for many of them. Offenses at the ten properties ranged from trash and "rank weeds" to illegal storage of car parts and building materials.

After Cagle found Willard guilty of the offenses, he declined a defense request to delay the sentencing long enough for Willard to correct the violations. Cagle also required Willard to post $18,000 in bonds to appeal his convictions to Jackson County Associate Circuit Court.

Defense lawyer, Warhurst said the sentence and bonds were excessive. "An $18,000 bond is more like something for a slasher than a landlord," he said. "The public might love it but that is money he won't have available to fix up his properties."

Warhurst said his client could get the problems corrected before the higher court reconsiders his case on appeal later this year. "We'll do what we would have done before if he had given us sixty days to bring it up to code," Warhurst said.

Cagle drew praise from the media and neighborhood leaders last month when he sentenced a 53 year old school teacher to 1½ years in jail for code violations. The defendant, Opal L. Cushon has appealed her three convictions.


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