Former Landlord Slapped With Over 3 Dozen Sexual Charges After Demanding Sexual Favors From 30 Tenants In Exchange For Housing Aid

Union County Prosecutor's Office

A landlord in New Jersey, 75-year-old Joseph Centanni, has been slapped with more than three dozen sex charges after demanding sexual acts and favors from 30 tenants, who have low income, in trade for housing aid, according to prosecutors. 

The New York Post reports that the Union County Prosecutor’s Office says Centanni

“was charged last week in a 42-count indictment that includes 23 counts of second-degree sexual assault and 19 counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual contact.” 

Centanni possessed 18-low income properties in   Elizabeth, New Jersey. Between 2012 and 2022, the landlord bribed both men and women between the ages of 22 and 61 to commit unwanted sexual favors. 

According to a statement,

“the defendant allegedly solicited the sex acts from his victims as a quid pro quo, agreeing to offer them rent reductions, a delay in an eviction, or other forms of financial assistance in exchange.”

The statement continued,

“He also purportedly threatened tenants who hesitated or refused his advances with eviction or other retaliatory measures.” 

The landlord was taken into custody back in June 2021; however, is currently

“free on court-ordered pretrial monitoring pending the outcome of his case,”

reports the New York Post.  One year ago, the Justice Department said he consented to pay $4.5 million to settle a Fair Housing Act lawsuit sought to safeguard tenants from discrimination and harassment. As part of the settlement, Centanni sold all of his properties as he has also been banned from managing and owning residential properties. Reports added that he did not admit to anything in the

“settling lawsuit.” 

The lawsuit, which was filed by the Department of Justice back in 2020 says, Centanni, subjected potential tenants as well as tenants to 

 “severe or pervasive sexual harassment.”

He mandated oral sex from tenants as well as inappropriately touching them without their permission in trade for

“rental assistance”

to remain in their homes. 

According to The Post, the $4.8 million he consented to pay will be distributed to the victims through a

“compensation fund.” 

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