REDONDO BEACH -- An appeals court has upheld the conviction of Rami Nassif, owner of the "monster mansion" on 733 Paulina Ave. in Redondo Beach. Although the house was demolished in 2015 and is now an empty lot, Nassif appealed the conviction, alleging judicial bias. A three-judge panel did not agree with his appeal and upheld the decision.
According to an article by the Redondo Beach Patch, the appeal arose when Nassif, a contractor and developer, let the property sit in disrepair for nearly 10 years. In 2014, he was convicted of 13 misdemeanor charges related to maintaining a public nuisance and safety hazard.
In an article by The Beach Reporter, the original permit was issued in 2005. In November 2010, Nassif did not apply for a permit to continue work on the project, according to court documents. The Beach Reporter article explained that the home became a public nuisance. Neighbors lodged complaints directly with Nassif about the trash and graffiti on the property.
“Kids hopped the fence, and would smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol on the property,” the article said. “After contacting their council members, the city began legal action against Nassif, who said he no longer owned the property. He said the home was sold to a trust. The court system didn’t buy it.”
Redondo Beach city officials were unaware of the problem for years until those residents filed their complaints and convinced officials to fence off the property in 2012. The article also explained that in 2015, the city eventually demolished the home. Since then, an empty lot remains.
In his appeal, Nassif argued against most of the charges and claimed judicial bias. He said the trial court was biased against him, because in pre-testimony, the trial court visited the property to see the reality of what the issue was about, according to court documents.
Despite his argument, the three judges upheld the initial ruling in a court opinion filed Aug. 3. Furthermore, the court argued that by not submitting complaints at the time of the initial allegations, Nassif forfeited his contention.
“When saying that he was not afforded adequate notice to correct problems, the court dismissed it, stating that he was present in court and decided not to contest a demolition order,” The Beach Reporter article said. “In another note, he asked the law to overturn several counts because the city’s ordinance was too vague.”
The judges' written opinion stated that the ordinance was not vague when applied to the particular situation. Redondo Beach city attorney Mike Webb said a civil lawsuit is still pending, and while Nassif could attempt further appeals, a higher court would need to review the case.