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Delrio-Mocci v. Connolly Properties Inc.

2009 WL 971394 (U.S. Dist. Ct. D. N.J. 2009) (Unpublished)

LANDLORD-TENANT; DISCRIMINATION — It is not a violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act to rent an apartment to an alien so long as the landlord does not prevent or take any affirmative steps to prevent government authorities from detecting the alien’s unlawful presence.

Residents of a multi-dwelling complex alleged that the owners actively sought out illegal aliens as prospective tenants because their immigration status made it easy for the owners to exploit such tenants in violation of state and federal statutes. The residents also alleged that the owners segregated their apartment buildings according to impermissible criteria to avoid confrontation amongst the building’s residents. Certain of the residents sued the apartment complex owner in federal court.

The United States District Court granted the owner’s motion to dismiss, holding that, absent proof that the landlord had engaged in some other unlawful conduct, it was not a violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO) to rent an apartment to an alien. The Court found that even if the landlord knew that some of its tenants were illegal aliens, so long as it did not prevent or take any affirmative steps to prevent government authorities from detecting the aliens’ unlawful presence, it did not violate the statute. The Court also held that providing aliens with obvious information that any fugitive would know was not an activity in violation of the RICO. It noted that even if the owner had segregated its residents, such behavior could not be seen as taking an affirmative step to conceal illegal aliens’ presence from authorities.

The United States District Court also found that the owner’s behavior did not “encourage” or “induce” a pattern of racketeering activity in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Merely providing housing, the Court ruled, was not enough to constitute an INA violation.


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