EAST PALO ALTO (CBS SF) – An East Palo Alto landlord was sentenced to probation, community service and a fine Wednesday for attempting to drive poor tenants out of his complex.

Nemat Maleksalehi, who owns Stanford Garden Apartments, was charged with vandalizing his tenants property including shooting out the windshields of their cars with a BB gun.

Instead of finding Maleksalehi guilty of a felony charge, he was allowed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge. The felony charge could have earned him jail time.

“If it were a felony, which is where it belonged I believe, then we talk about jail,” said San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe. “We don’t just talk about here’s a fine where a man of wealth can just write a check and not have to do jail like other people would.”

Prosecutors have said that the landlord’s motive was to force out his tenants so he could raise the rents. Residents in rent controlled units pay $1,100 a month while the market rate for the units is $2,800.

Maleksalehi has expressed remorse for his actions – some that we captured on security cam video.

“My feeling is beyond words — as far as being regretful,” he told the judge.

One of Maleksalehi’s residents expressed dismay over the ruling.

“It’s extremely unfair and unjust given what he’s done,” she said asking that her identity not be revealed.

The judge sentenced Maleksalehi to three years probation, 40 days of community service, restitution for damages to the tenants property and $84,000 in court fees.

Comments (3)
  1. How can the DA be angry that the defendant was “allowed” to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge rather than being tried and found guilty of a felony? If the case was resolved by plea bargain, that means the DA agreed to the deal, correct? Otherwise the case would go to trial, and the DA would take his chances with a jury. Money talks to juries too. Maybe DA figured this outcome was better than the uncertainty of a jury verdict.

    1. Unless there is something I don’t understand about the plea bargain process, you are right.