In West Hazelton, Pennsylvania, the Standard-Speaker
- A landlord faces criminal charges after allegedly accepting rent money for two condemned properties she owns and not refunding the payments once the occupants found out they were condemned.
West Hazleton police said Margarita Murarescu, 65, of McKinley Street, Hazleton, entered into lease agreements with two separate parties for a double home she owns [...]. She accepted security deposits for each however, the properties were condemned by West Hazleton since October 2014 and as such couldn’t be occupied.
As police investigated the two complaints, they gave Murarescu a chance to refund the money she took but as of her arrest , arrest papers state, she failed to do so.
Murarescu was charged with two counts each theft by deception and receiving stolen property, all misdemeanors.
She was arraigned  by Magisterial District Judge Daniel O’Donnell, Sugarloaf Township, who set bail at $20,000 and unable to immediately post the money, she was taken to jail.
A couple told police they paid Murarescu a total of $1,400 for a security deposit to rent 505 N. Broad St., in August and on Aug. 14 were given a key and permission to move in the following day, police said. Arrest papers state the victims were preparing to rent a moving van Aug. 15 when Murarescu called them stating they couldn’t move in until Aug. 19 because the building wasn’t inspected yet.
Fearing something wasn’t right, the victims called West Hazleton Code Enforcement that day only to find the property was condemned nearly two years ago and condemnation notices on the building were taken down by someone.
The following day another victim called police stating he and a friend rented the neighboring property at 507 N. Broad St. and paid Murarescu $1,800 on May 3. They too signed a lease agreement and moved in shortly after. A few days later they were contacted by borough code enforcement who notified them that they needed to vacate the property because it was condemned, court records state.
In both cases Murarescu gave the victims receipts for their payments, police wrote, and in both cases the renters were left without a home they paid for.