BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Erie County District Attorney’s office filed a misdemeanor charge under Public Health Law against a South Buffalo landlord, who was arraigned Tuesday morning.
MD Abedin, 53, is accused of continuing to rent a residential property that was in violation of a County Department of Health order after a child tenant tested positive for lead exposure. According to the DA’s office, this is only the second case prosecuted since the law was enacted in 2014, the first being prosecuted in March 2019. The defendant in that case pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 90 days in jail.
Abedin was arraigned on one count of willful violation of health laws, under Public Health Law Section 12-B (1), an unclassified misdemeanor. He has been accused of failing to comply with the law by continuing to allow people to live at his Hammerschmidt Avenue property between July 12, 2019 and Nov. 30, 2021, knowingly violating a Department of Health order.
On July 3, 2019, the department was reportedly notified of a child with elevated blood lead levels at the residence, and a public health sanitarian inspected the residence. The DA’s office said the sanitarian attempted to work with the landlord to correct the violations, but on October 22, 2020, a “Do Not Allow Occupancy of Dwelling Unit” notice was posted on the residence, then unoccupied, indicating the property must remain vacant until it was inspected again and approved by the Health Department.
On Nov. 6, 2020, a sanitarian allegedly returned to the residence and said the notice had been removed from the front door and the residence was occupied. The sanitarian reportedly re-posted the notice, which is said to have been removed again prior to the sanitarians’ return on Dec. 18, 2020, when the notice was posted once again.
Abedin is scheduled to return on March 31 at 9:30 a.m. for further proceedings. He was released on his own recognizance as the charge is non-qualifying for bail.
“I want the residents of Erie County to know that I take this crime seriously as there are potential lifelong consequences for the children who are exposed to this toxic substance,” said DA John Flynn. “Any landlord who fails to comply with public health law and knowingly exposes their tenants, especially innocent children, to lead will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Flynn also encouraged anyone with a concern about lead exposure in their residence to contact the Department of Health immediately at (716) 961-6800.
Adam Duke is a digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of his work here.