San Francisco landlord arrested for breaking into tenant's apartment

June 26, 2013 6:53:51 AM PDT
A group of San Francisco tenants say their landlord terrorizes them day and night. The landlord was arrested Monday, accused of breaking into one of his tenant's units.

Norman Sabel was arrested and charged with trespassing, resisting arrest and battery on a police officer, who broke his knee in the scuffle and ended up in the hospital. Tenants and their lawyers tell ABC7 News that problems with this landlord have gone on for years.

A tenant took videos of Sabel on two separate occasions. One was shot when Sabel was about to hose down a common area of the apartment house. After Sabel takes a swing at the tenant, he charges at him. In another video, the tenant's lawyer says Sabel is fighting with someone about the lack of heat.

Sabel owns the 24-unit apartment building on Fulton Street near Golden Gate Park. Lawyers representing several tenants say half of the units are empty.

Steve MacDonald represents two former tenants and one who's trying to leave. All are suing Sabel.

"He just enjoys dominating and harassing the tenants till they're begging, please give us heat, please get these people out of the building, why are you doing this," MacDonald said.

Monday, tensions came to a head. Tenant Nikko Bravo secretly recorded Sabel cussing at him and as he tried to kick in the door of his apartment. Police arrested Sabel after they say he broke down the door and rushed into the unit.

"I'm on the phone with 911, he gets in and starts thrashing the place and I run to the kitchen, there's no place to go," Bravo said.

Lt. Mike Caplan says Sabel struggled with the officer who tried to arrest him.

"When the officer and the suspect went down, the officer injured his leg and ended up going to the hospital," Caplan said.

Chris Dolan is Bravo's attorney.

"He's been sued for breaking down the door, failing to provide heat, failing provide water; he's actively being sued and he just continues to explode," he said.

Caplan says they've received numerous calls in the past with complaints about the apartment.

"Suspicious hanging around, noise complaints, that kind of thing," Caplan said. "I guess the neighborhood is getting impatient with that building."

ABC7 News asked Sabel for an interview. He declined.

Bravo and his family were getting ready to move out when ABC7 News left the building this afternoon. His lawyer had requested an officer to stand by just to make sure there would be no trouble. At least one of the lawyers told ABC7 News he was planning to take this case to the district attorney.


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