Court date pushed back for hundreds of CHA maintenance violations at Allen Benedict Court

Published: Jan. 21, 2020 at 8:54 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - A municipal court date for the Columbia Housing Authority to respond to 22 maintenance citations issued at the Allen Benedict Court property is being pushed back.

The hearing, originally scheduled for Wednesday, was continued until February 5. Court officials said a “conflict” was the reason for the delay.

Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook announced at a November press conference that 869 violations spanning 22 different categories of the International Property Maintenance Code were discovered at the complex. The city issued 22 citations against the Columbia Housing Authority.

City officials involved in the investigation, including the 5th Circuit Solicitor’s Office, have declined to comment on the upcoming court hearing since the initial announcement in November. Most cite pending civil litigation against the housing authority, including four lawsuits.

Former Columbia City Councilman Moe Baddourah, who has been outspoken about the investigation, wrote a letter to South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson in December, asking someone from his office to reexamine the investigation and subsequent findings.

“I really do believe somebody got away with murder,” Baddourah said.

He has yet to receive a response, but a spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office confirmed it has received the letter. Concerns outlined in the letter stem from constituents, Baddourah said, who approached him over the last several months with their opinions.

“When somebody obviously knows there is a problem and they keep ignoring the problem, more than once, and then that ignoring or negligence results into a death, that’s the problem,” he said.

Last week, the Columbia Housing Authority announced its plans to demolish Allen Benedict Court by the end of the first quarter of the year. Baddourah said that announcement may keep the housing authority from facing any penalties for the 22 citations it is facing.

“In this case, they’re going to demolish every building, which basically is going to satisfy the city court,” he said. “Unfortunately it’s not going to satisfy the 400 people that were misplaced or the two people that died while sleeping or sitting in the comfort of their own home.”

According to online court records, two civil lawsuits are set to be heard on Feb. 3 in Richland County, two days before a city judge will hear the evidence to support the 869 maintenance violations on the property.

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