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Housing judge sentences absent landlord to 105 days in jail

Houston businessman Scott Wizig, the most prosecuted landlord in Buffalo history, Friday was sentenced in absentia to a 105-day local jail term for long-standing problems with a property he owned at 245 Southampton St. He also was fined $10,500.

After an attorney for Wizig, who bought and sold more than 300 Buffalo properties at auction a half-decade ago, entered a "no contest" plea, City Housing Judge Henry J. Nowak ordered Wizig to surrender here April 21 to begin his jail term.

Housing Court Prosecutor Gregory A. Heeb said he expects Wizig's attorney, Sherree Meadows, to ask Nowak to reconsider the jail term. He said that request could come prior to court proceedings next month on another Wizig holding on Ernst Avenue.

Neither Wizig nor Meadows could be reached to comment on Friday's developments.

The Texas entrepreneur settled a lawsuit brought against him four years ago by State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer over his Buffalo property dealings.

Under that settlement, Wizig had to pay $50,000 in restitution and was liable for $250,000 in claims for housing repairs, rental credits and rescinded mortgages.

The next year, city officials also reached a settlement with Wizig, allowing him to avoid fines or jail time on cases in Housing Court that involved hundreds of properties. The deal required Wizig to put $100,000 in escrow to make repairs and gave him incentive to unload his remaining properties within six months.

Attorneys for Joy A. Drati now argue that Wizig unloaded Buffalo properties on him that were all "in terrible disrepair." Drati, a California businessman, has been jailed here since December and faces a possible 11-year prison term and nearly $1 million in personal and corporate fines for Housing Court cases.

e-mail: mgryta@buffnews.com

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