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State v. Pandey

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District, Fairfield

July 30, 2018

STATE OF OHIO Plaintiff-Appellee
v.
NAWAL PANDEY Defendant-Appellant

          Criminal Appeal from the Municipal Court, Case Nos. CRB 1602859, CRB 1602496, and CRB 1602497

          For Plaintiff-Appellee DANIEL E. COGLEY LANCASTER CITY PROSECUTOR

          For Defendant-Appellant SCOTT P. WOOD CONRAD/WOOD

          HON. JOHN W. WISE, P. J. HON. W. SCOTT GWIN, J. HON. PATRICIA A. DELANEY, J.

          OPINION

          WISE, P. J.

         {¶1} Appellant Nawal Pandey appeals his conviction and sentence entered in the Fairfield County Municipal Court on seven first-degree misdemeanors for building and maintenance code violations, following a bench trial.

         {¶2} Appellee is State of Ohio.

         STATEMENT OF THE FACTS AND CASE

         {¶3} On July 27, 2016, Code Enforcement Officer Sean Fowler inspected two properties located at 805 E. Main Street and 1940 E. Main Street within the City of Lancaster. (T. at 5). At the 805 E. Main Street location, Mr. Fowler observed grass higher than 10 inches, exterior sanitation issues, hazardous electrical systems, roofs and drainage violations, and windows violations. At the 1940 E. Main Street location, Mr. Fowler observed grass higher than 10 inches. (T. at 24-28). Following the inspections, Mr. Fowler sent Appellant Nawal Pandey notices of all the violations by both certified mail and e-mail. (T. at 22-24).

         {¶4} On August 3, 2016, Mr. Fowler met with Appellant Pandey, who acknowledged receiving the notices of violations. Appellant made assurances that someone would be fixing the violations on the property within a few days.

         {¶5} On August 19, 2016, the properties remained unchanged. (T. at 41). Mr. Fowler photographed the violations on each property and submitted them to the City Prosecutor's office to be reviewed for criminal charges.

         {¶6} As a result, Appellant Pandey was charged with numerous violations of the International Property Maintenance Code (hereinafter "IPMC"), which the City of Lancaster adopted by reference in Lancaster Codified Ordinance §1303.01, under three different case numbers: CRB1602859, RB1602496, CRB 1602497.

         {¶7} All three cases were consolidated for trial purposes, and after several continuances, the cases proceeded to trial on June 22, 2017.

         {¶8} At trial during its case-in-chief, the State established that the two properties at issue were owned by U.S. Enterprises Two, LLC. (T. at 17). The State also established that Appellant was the statutory agent for the LLC. (T. at 18). Evidence was also presented that Appellant, as statutory agent, had been notified of the code violations, met with city officials, and advised that the violations would be taken care of by someone. When the violations were not remedied, Appellant was personally charged with criminal offenses.

         {¶9} At the conclusion of the State's case, Appellant moved for an acquittal, pursuant to Criminal Rule 29, arguing the State did not prove Appellant's relationship to the LLC, other than statutory agent, and did not prove Appellant had primary responsibility to discharge the duties imposed by law on the ...


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