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East Palo Alto Landlord, Son Arrested For Targeting Rent Controlled Tenants

EAST PALO ALTO (CBS SF) -- The owner of an East Palo Alto apartment complex and his son are facing charges in connection with what police and prosecutors believe was a plot to target tenants in order to get them to move out of their rent controlled apartments, police said Monday.

Following a lengthy investigation an arrest warrant was issued on Sept. 21 for Saratoga resident Nemat Maleksalehi, landlord of Stanford Garden Apartments at 1735 Woodland Ave., and his son East Palo Alto resident Auria Maleksalehi, according to police.

On numerous occasions tenants who lived in rent controlled units at the complex allegedly had their car windows broken and their personal property damaged, police said.

Investigators determined the pair was involved in the crimes in an apparent attempt to get the tenants to move out, allowing the landlord to then increase the rent to market rate, according to police.

Investigators also learned Auria Maleksalehi had allegedly contacted a witness to one of the crimes in an attempt to prevent them from speaking with police.

The elder Nemat Maleksalehi has been charged with felony destruction of property. He pleaded not guilty to the charge and is set to appear in court again Oct. 26 at 1 p.m., according to San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.

Auria Maleksalehi has been charged with misdemeanor attempting to dissuade a witness from cooperating with a criminal investigation. He also pleaded not guilty to the charge and is set to appear in court next on Feb. 15, Wagstaffe said.

Both men have been released on their own recognizance, according to Wagstaffe.

A defense attorney for Nemat Maleksalehi was not immediately available for comment.

UPDATE 7/31/17: An attorney for Auria Maleksalehi said the case against his client was dimissed because of insufficient evidence. In a statement, Auria Maleksalehi said, "From the very start, I have maintained that the allegation against me was unfounded. The prosecutor's decision today makes it clear that that my initial attempt to make amends to our tenants was misconstrued. My only intention was to make things right. I look forward to rebuilding relationships with our tenants and remain committed to treating all of our tenants fairly, with dignity and respect."

UPDATE 3/29/17: Nemat Maleksalehi pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge and was sentenced to three years probation, community service, restitution for damages to the tenants' property and court costs.

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