Tenants to withhold rent pending eviction

June 2, 2009 3:40:23 PM PDT
Some residents in Westchester want a sex offender out of their apartment complex.Now, they say they will withhold their rent until Michael Fonti is evicted.

Fonti, who lives in Eckerson Village, is a Level 3 sex offender. He was convicted in March 1993 of sexually abusing a 10-year-old Peekskill boy and was imprisoned from April 1993 to July 1996. He was also convicted of first-degree attempted sodomy in 1984 and sentenced to 1 1/2 years to 4 1/2 years in prison. He was released in 1986.

According to state law, anyone on the national or state sex-offender registries cannont live in a property funded through the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Eckerson Village, a complex for the disabled, is such a property.

Fonti, who is 46 and uses a wheelchair, says he just wants to be allowed to live in peace.

"I've done nothing wrong. I'm paying the rent," he told the Journal News. "Just let me be, man. I'm not going to bother anyone whatsoever. I promise you that. I promise everybody that."

But many who live there disagree. They even say that Fonti hurled obscenities and slurs at them Saturday night.

Fonti denied that claim, saying he had been yelling at his girlfriend because "she was being an idiot," according to the newspaper.

A group of residents is now circulating a petition asking tentants to withhold rent until Fonti was out.

A spokesman for Arco Management, which runs Eckerson Village, says the company is pursuing legal options to remove Fonti.

The company apparetnly initiated eviction proceedings against Fonti in May, claiming he did not disclose his criminal record on the application. Fonti told the Journal News that was untrue.

"I told them that I had a couple of felonies," he told the paper. "I did not lie."

Fonti plans to fight the eviction.


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