Connecticut Report: Landlord Had History Of Code Violations

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- City officials had considered arresting the owner of a Hartford apartment building weeks before it burned down on Saturday because of numerous fire and housing code violations, officials said.

Paul S. Diloreto of Wethersfield, who owns several Hartford properties, is a ``repeat offender,'' said Lt. Edward Casares Jr. of the Hartford Fire Department. He also had a history of renting fire-damaged apartments to tenants, city records show.

On Saturday, Diloreto's Park Street apartment building was destroyed by fire, leaving 38 people homeless.

``None of the apartments had smoke detectors, and he had been in housing court many times,'' Casares said.

City records show the building had been cited for water-damaged walls and ceilings, rotted floors, faulty electrical fixtures. It lacked fire alarms, smoke detectors, emergency lighting and fire safety doors, the Hartford Courant reported Monday, citing court records.

Housing officials inspected the building Oct. 26 and gave Diloreto five days to correct violations _ including cracked and collapsing ceilings, cracked walls and roaches and rodents _ or face prosecution in housing court. It was unclear whether he had made the repairs before the fire, the Courant reported.

On Oct. 27, fire officials inspected the building and gave Diloreto until Nov. 30 to fix seven fire safety violations or risk being arrested, Casares said.

Diloreto could not be reached for comment.

Saturday's fire started in a ventilation shaft and spread to the attic and roof, with smoke building in the bathrooms of the apartments, fire officials said.

No serious injuries were reported in the blaze, and Fire Marshal William Abbott said it could take at least two weeks to determine the cause.

Other buildings owned by Diloreto also were under city scrutiny. By February 2003, Diloreto had been a defendant in housing court at least five times.

City records show that Diloreto was arrested in 1991 and faced charges of seven counts of housing violations at a property he owned on Retreat Avenue. Court records show that Diloreto was convicted in 1992 of a housing code violation in Hartford, but further details on that case were not available.

Violations in that building, while under his ownership, date to at least 1990, records show.

The files on Diloreto's properties also show that he has a history of renting to tenants in buildings damaged by fire and partially boarded up. In 1997, city housing officials cited him for illegally renting apartments on Green Street in a boarded-up building that had been damaged by fire.

Also that year, housing officials found that he was renting apartments in another fire-damaged, boarded-up building on Albany Avenue, six months after officials declared it in need of serious work, and three months after Diloreto took out building permits to do the work.