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City dismisses criminal complaint against developer Schlesinger

The City of Escondido on July 31 dismissed criminal complaints against developer Michael Schlesinger, the owner of the old Escondido Country Club property that it filed in January.

The original charges against  Schlesinger of “Stuck in the Rough” for “knowingly and intentionally maintaining the property in violation of the Municipal Code,” according to the city attorney. This is the same property the city voted last year to allow Schlesinger to develop with 380 homes.

According to City Attorney Michael R. McGuinness:

On July 31s, the City dismissed the criminal complaint without prejudice (meaning without a finding on the merits) because the defendants (1) abated all nuisances alleged in the complaint; and (2) agreed to the critical components of what we wanted from them including:

 (a)    An agreement to complete corrections on any future structural issues on the property within the time demanded by the City;

 (b)    An agreement to correct any municipal code or state law violations anywhere on the property in the time required by the City;

 (c)     An agreement that should the defendants fail to comply with demands and notices from the City, the settlement agreement could be used as substantive evidence that defendants acknowledge the existence of the public nuisances alleged in the complaint (in other words, they agree they were public nuisances); and, probably most importantly,

 (d)    The defendants agreed that any breach of the agreement entitles the City to immediate injunctive relief to enforce the above obligations. 

 The City Attorney told The Times-Advocate: “Therefore, if they violate again, they agree they are subject to immediate court intervention as opposed to potential delays that could come with the filing of a new criminal complaint or seeking a probation violation hearing.”

McGuinness added,  “In reaching this compromise, the City secured a guaranteed result and achieved the goal of the complaint by exacting definitive conditions controlling the future use of the property.  Defendants must give prompt attention to and act upon notices of violations and they agree to immediate court intervention should they refuse or fail to comply.  At this time they are in compliance with all orders and notices of the City and have remedied any issues (usually graffiti) immediately upon notice.”

The attorney representing Schlesinger, Ronald Richards, Esq. of the Law Offices of Ronald Richards & Associates, A.P.C.  commented: “The criminal docket shows a dismissal without explanation or reason. The dismissal was not contingent upon any other events.  We did agree with the city that we would keep the property free of code violations as that is our obligation under the law but we did not waive our right to contest any improper violations.  We believe the prosecutor made a common sense and fair resolution with our client and we don’t believe there will be any further issues between the parties.”  

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