L.A. SLUMLORD ARRESTED AFTER 8 YEARS ON THE RUN.
After eight years as a fugitive, with several close calls that could have resulted in his capture, Los Angeles' most notorious convicted slumlord was arrested in New York, officials announced Friday.
Vijaynand Sharma, 48, was arrested Thursday in the city of Liberty, N.Y., by an off-duty Sullivan County District Attorney investigator who acted on a tip from Los Angeles authorities and followed a friend of Sharma's to a meeting with him.
Sharma was being held without bail Friday because of the risk that he would flee, said City Attorney James Hahn.
``This is a great day for this office,'' Hahn said. ``We have been following this man since 1988, and we never gave up.''
Sharma was convicted in 1987 on 112 counts of violating health, safety, building and fire codes at five apartment buildings he owned.
On the day he was to be sentenced, he did not appear and law enforcement officials had been searching for him until his arrest this week.
Sharma originally was sentenced to spend 20 months in jail, pay a $153,000 fine, and pay $100,000 in overdue utility bills.
Now, if he is returned to Los Angeles, he could face up to 56 years in prison, 6 months for each of the 112 counts on which he was convicted, Hahn said.
``The probation report on this man recommended no probation,'' Hahn said. ``He was described as callous and insensitive.''
Hahn said his department had reports that Sharma had lived at different times in Scotland and Canada, as well as in the United States.
Los Angeles officials could not extradite him from the foreign countries, since treaties do not cover misdemeanor crimes.
``A couple of years ago, we had a report he was in Palos Verdes but by the time we got a search warrant, he was gone,'' Hahn said.
At one point during his years as a fugitive, Sharma was arrested by New Jersey authorities. However, he was released by mistake before Los Angeles officials could ask that he be held in custody.
Sharma has been living in New York for at least two years and was using the name of his brother, Hahn said. Los Angeles officials received an anonymous tip about him recently and contacted New York authorities.
Hahn said a hearing will be held at which Sharma will be asked to waive extradition proceedings. If Sharma does not, Hahn said his office will ask Gov. Pete Wilson to issue a warrant for him to be returned to the state.