A Day in Court (continued): Meeting the Judge
Pleading indigence and ignorance, Nadya Mahdavi stood before the court Wednesday afternoon and declared: “I don’t even know why I’m here.”
Mahdavi (on the right in her Facebook picture at a Halloween party) stands accused as an individual and as officer of the firm that owns the single family home that became a tenement of four misdemeanor criminal violations of LA.’s building code.
It was a remarkable Van Nuys Muncipal Court appearance for the leading suspect in this mystery that has dragged on since March, much to the frustration and anger of many of my neighbors who see the conversion of this 2,000 square foot house into a tenement with three apartments and 12 or so rooms as a threat to the quality of their lives.
Mahdavi, joined by her husband Nasir Shaikh, were kept cooling their heels from 9 a.m. in part because she failed to appear in court when summoned previously and in part for “attitude adjustment” because as Commissioner Rebecca Omens noted she was overheard calling Assistant City Attorney Don Cocek “a piece of shit.”
Cocek, who spends all day trying to get people to comply with the law rather than go to jail, offended by Mahdavi by asking if she had a lawyer and cutting off the conversation on how to restore the house to its original state when she insisted she wanted a Public Defender.
Mahdavi’s Facebook page says she attended Chatsworth and El Camino high schools and is the president of Wall Street Properties, “an investment firm with real estate and mortgage division.” She and her husband also own a Porsche and a Mercedes, Cocek noted.
And she is listed as an officer of Fidelity Investments Group LLC which bought the house at 19953 Haynes St. this summer from Claudia Perez, an employee of Wall Street Properties, who bought the house in May from Mahdavi who bought the house out of foreclosure in January.
She was cited for construction without a permit in March but flipped the house before the issue could be resolved and the units were rented in May and June — asking price $5,500 for the three — which led to more citations for an illegal structure and other violations and the purchase by Fidelity Investments.
For the neighbors, the case has dragged on interminably and there’s no end in sight.
It took a long time before Building and Safety could track down several possible residences where she might live and the cops to leave a note that a warrant was issued for failure to appear in court in September and for her to show up at the Devonshire Division Police Station with a lawyer to be booked, fingerprinted and released on $5,000 cash bail.
The Public Defender didn’t buy her plea of poverty so Mahdavi appeared before Commissioner Omens and pleaded that she had four kids and was getting separated from her husband. And besides, she had never been served with papers, perhaps because her office had moved from West Hills to Encino.
“I don’t own this property anymore,” she said. “I purchased it from the bank and sold it.”
She knew nothing of her connection to Fidelity Investments, which shows up in Secretary of State filings with her husband as the agent of service.
Omens, who seemed ready to jail her at one point, suggested Mahdavi needed to get a lawyer and ordered her to come back next Thursday.
“Am I allowed to come without an attorney?” she asked. “I don’t have a penny for an attorney. Can I know why I’m here? I don’t know.”
Cocek calmly explained the charges and her role as defined in the incorporation papers.
Her husband sat quietly in the audience throughout the hearing and whispered “sorry” to her when they left the courtroom..
To be continued…