Attorney for apartments denies discrimination

Published 10:05 pm Thursday, July 23, 2009

The owner of Rolling Oaks Apartments, who is being sued by the U.S. Justice Department for allegedly discrimination against blacks when renting apartments, said Thursday that the charges are not true.

Anthony B. Bush, a lawyer representing Rolling Oaks owner Chandi Biswas, said his client “strongly denies” ever discriminating against anyone or adopting policies intended to discourage black people from applying to live there.

Bush added that approximately 10 percent of Rolling Oaks tenants at the 72-unit complex are African Americans.

“Mr. Biswas is looking forward to appearing in court to defend these charges and clear his name,” Bush said.

The Justice Department filed the lawsuit Tuesday in U.S. District Court. The suit claims employees Kenneth R. “Ken” Scott and Frankie L. Roberson told white individuals acting as renters that a major selling point of Rolling Oaks was the lack of black tenants. Biswas is also named in the complaint.

The government alleges the employees also said the apartments had changed policies hoping to keep blacks from applying to live there. It isn’t clear what those policy changes were.

The charges came from evidence collected during the department’s Fair Housing Testing Program, where people pose as renters to gather information about possible discriminatory practices.

If true, the actions would violate the Fair Housing Act, which outlaws discrimination based on race, color, religion, gender, family status, national orgin and disability.

The lawsuit seeks monetary damages, civil penalties and a court order barring future discrimination.