Owner Of Washington Co. Collapsed Building Appears In Court, Says He Is Not A Slumlord

WASHINGTON, Pa. (KDKA) — The owner of the building that collapsed in Washington County earlier this month, trapping a woman for nine hours, appeared in court Tuesday.

While his lawyers asked for a delay, the city says it’s not just that property they are concerned about.

Mark Russo and his sister own seven properties in Washington. The collapsed building is being demolished, and two others have been condemned by the city and padlocked.

As Russo left court, he had very little to say about the condition of his property.

Reporter: “Are you are a slumlord?”

Russo: “No.”

Reporter: “What happened to that building?”

Russo: “To be determined.”

There are several elements to be considered in this case, and that’s the reason why Russo’s hearing did not take place.

“There are investigations that are ongoing, not only by the city and other officials, but also by the insurance companies and other parties involved. So, we wanted to make sure that we were not rushing into court today,” said Washington County Solicitor Steve Torprani.

Two weeks ago, the building on North Main Street in Washington, owned by Russo and his sister Melissa, partially collapsed. One resident, Megan Angelone, was trapped inside for more than nine hours, causing her serious injuries.

The building code inspector had cited Russo and given him time to correct the problems in the building, but officials say Russo did not comply.

“We are going to do everything we can to make sure taxpayers are not burden by this event. That’s really the best way I can put it. To the extent that he has assets, the extent that he has insurance, we are going to pursue it vigorously,” said Torprani.

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Officials say more citations are forthcoming for the Russos. Two other properties have been condemned – one of them a house on Duncan Avenue, the other a duplex on Hall Avenue. Both of been deemed uninhabitable.

“Part of the media coverage has really been a benefit to the city,” said Torprani. “A number of residents have come forward and tenants have come forward with complaints when they may not have otherwise.”

The next court date is set for Thursday, Aug. 24.

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