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Koreatown apartment owner settles sexual harassment allegations

A Koreatown apartment owner has agreed to pay $130,000 to settle allegations that one of its property managers sexually harassed tenants for nearly a decade.

In May, the U.S. Department of Justice sued apartment owner M&F Development and property manager Abraham Kesary, alleging Kesary engaged in unwelcome sexual acts, including groping, kissing and attempting to penetrate female tenants at an apartment building on Western Avenue.

The lawsuit alleged Kesary also offered to waive or reduce rent and late fees if tenants performed sexual acts.

Under the terms of the settlement, filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, M&F Development will pay $120,000 to alleged victims, as well as a $10,000 civil penalty to the federal government. It will also be required to hire an independent property manager approved by the government.

As for Kesary, the agreement permanently prohibits him from from working in property management at any rental property and from contacting alleged victims.

“Tenants have the right to live in their homes free from sexual harassment by their landlords,” Assistant Atty. Gen. Kristen Clarke said in a statement. “The Justice Department will continue to vigorously enforce fair housing laws against landlords who prey on vulnerable residents.”

Neither the owners of M&F Development nor Kesary could be immediately reached for comment. However, after the government filed its lawsuit in May, a man who picked up a phone number listed for an Abraham Kesary told The Times that he was Kesary and denied sexually harassing tenants.

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