Judge Seizes Control of Six ‘Unlivable’ Apartments from Slumlord Joshua Bruno

Washington Place Apartments Big Easy Magazine Staff Photo

More than two years after Big Easy Magazine reported on deplorable conditions at Joshua Bruno’s properties, a federal bankruptcy judge has seized control of six apartment complexes, accusing Bruno of “potentially fraudulent “money transfers.”

On Monday, US Bankruptcy Judge Meredith Grabill said that Bruno’s complexes are “in a state of abject decrepitude,” and took control of Oakmont, Cypress Park, Forest Park, Liberty Park, Washington Place, and Riverview Apartments. According to Grabill, Bruno received $800,000 in hurricane insurance money that he thing “surreptitiously” caused to “vanish in the wind without one receipt, canceled check, or other primary-source support to show that the proceeds were spent on repairs to the properties.”

In her ruling, Grabill writes that “The Court found Bruno’s testimony, on the whole, to be evasive, unclear, and devoid of candor, and thus gives litter to no weight to his testimony.” She continued that while she believed that Bruno is overwhelmed, he also “operates solely in his own interest, is inclined to flout or skirt laws, rules, regulations, and ethics when it suits him, and, at times, prefers the use of strong-arm tactics against those over whom he feels he has leverage.”

According to the court order, Bruno is to turn over the six apartment complexes, their financial records, and any associated cash and assets to a trustee.

During a 2020 visit to the Washington Place complex in 2020, Big Easy Magazine found the property strewn with garbage and debris, including used needles littering the inoperable laundry room floor, mold and mildew growing around windows where broken a/c units had been removed but not replaced, and more.

Earlier this year, Bruno filed for bankruptcy in order to prevent the Federal National Morgage Association (Fannie Mae) from foreclosing on Washington Place, Oakmont, Cypress Park, and Liberty Park Apartments. Fannie Mae requested then that a judge appoint a trustee to oversee the properties. In February, the City of New Orleans offered tenants relocation assistance through the New Orleans Emergency Rental Assistance Program.

On Tuesday, the New Orleans Renter’s Rights Assembly, which had been involved in legal action against Bruno on behalf of tenants before the bankruptcy proceedings, posted on social media lauding the judge’s decision.

“Joshua Bruno lost his bankruptcy hearing and is no longer in control of six major apartment complexes in Orleans Parish and Jefferson Parish,” the nonpartisan group wrote. “This is due to the brilliance, creativity, and persistence of Oakmont tenants, the Renters Rights Assembly, and our lawyers.” The group also noted that they would work with Fannie Mae to “ensure that the remodeling and fixing up of these apartment complexes occur with advice, demands, and wishes of the current and former tenants.”

“Today we celebrate, tomorrow it’s back to work,” the group said.

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