GLENVILLE – The former building manager convicted of recklessly causing the death of four people in the Jay Street fire in downtown Schenectady is being evicted by a bank, which owns a home in Glenville the man has been squatting in.
Jason Sacks is one of four people squatting in the home at 48 Fredericks Road, which also has a slew of code violations from the town, ranging from prohibited outdoor storage to improper disposal of items like a bathtub, according to code violation documents provided by Glenville Town Supervisor Chris Koetzle.
Moss is growing on the roof, the shrubs haven’t been trimmed, leaves and trash linger on the door stoop and around the rest of the property. A stove in the driveway hasn’t moved in a while and is one of the first items neighbors bring up when discussing the situation.
That’s just some of what is visible from the road and driveway. The home stands out against the manicured lawns and tidy yards of neighboring homes.
The bank that owns the property is trying to evict a family squatting in the house – a process that was stalled by the COVID pandemic and moratorium on evictions.
“We’ve had these neighbors calling up and asking about the house and the status of our eviction proceedings and unfortunately there hasn’t been any good news to give them,” said a spokesperson for MFA Financials, who asked not to have his name used.
MFA Financials foreclosed on the property in 2019. MFA Financials said they aren’t sure how long the family has been living in the house. Before the company was able to foreclose on the property multiple people had been in and out of the property over the years, said Mike Kane, who lives at 49 Fredericks Road. He said the family – two kids, a man and a woman – has been squatting there for a couple years.
MFA Financials said they started the eviction process in October 2019. A notice was sent to Sacks and Andrea Quagliano.
Sacks pleaded guilty in 2018 to four counts of negligent homicide after admitting he was responsible for the conditions at 104 Jay St., which caught fire in 2015, killing four people, injuring seven and leaving 60 people homeless. Sacks was sentenced to one to three years in prison. He served less than a year in prison before being placed on parole in April 2019 and released from parole a year later.
The spokesperson for MFA Financials said the eviction process remains in the courts, which are backlogged with cases because of the pandemic. A court date was scheduled for March 2020, but put on hold due to the pandemic. A new court date has not been set.
“The family continues to live for free while we pay the property taxes and insurance for the house,” said the spokesperson for MFA Financials. “It’s just sort of a ridiculous situation. They were squatting long before COVID. This is not a situation where you have people who were struggling because of the pandemic, they were taking advantage of the system even before the pandemic.”
The family did not respond to a request for comment from The Gazette.
Neighbors say they are fed up with the whole situation.
“The house is just falling apart before our eyes,” said Gina Kristie, who lives at 47 Fredericks Road.
She said the house looks like a junkyard, with broken blinds and items scattered about.
She said there is concern that if the house continues to deteriorate it will bring down the value of the rest of the homes in the neighborhood.
“It’s by far the worst-looking house on the street,” she said.
Lucia Patnaude works from her home at 50 Fredericks Road and she said there are three grills on the deck with what looks like possibly leftover food. The shed in the backyard has a roof that’s caved in.
“I’m not saying it has to be spotless, but there has to be a level of accountability here,” she said.
Koetzle said the house has been a problem for years. Most of the code violations associated with the house have gone mostly unresolved and with no response from the people in the house, according to the documents.
Koetzle said the town has no authority to evict people and situations like this are civil matters that have to be disputed before a judge.
The neighbors said they want to see the house sold to someone who will take care of it.
“I’d love to see this house be sold to someone that’s going to upgrade it and kind of put it in the same standard as the rest of the neighborhood and perhaps have a young family with children live there and grow up there like we did with our kids,” Kane said. “It’s an eyesore now and it’s not getting any better.”
The spokesperson for the bank said he’s not even sure how much work may be needed to make the home sellable.
“I don’t know how it looks on the inside,” the spokesperson said. “Judging by the way it looks on the outside it might not be so nice on the inside.”