Cherry Orchard Property Manager Appears in Court
(With additional reporting by Pam G. Dempsey of CU-CitizenAccess)
A court date has been set for next week for a landlord who was arrested last month on contempt of court warrants issued after he and his son failed to appear at hearings in connection with substandard housing they managed south of Rantoul.
Eduardo Ramos faces a court date of March 23rd. He was arrested Feb. 25 on two contempt-of-court warrants at the Dulles International Airport in Virginia.
Ramos was arrested just after he had arrived from an international flight and held by custom officials, who in turn contacted the airport authority police who took him to Loudoun County, Virginia until he could be extradited to Illinois, according to airport and Loudoun County, Virginia officials.
On Friday, Eduardo Ramos made his first appearance in Champaign County court since his arrest.
A judge issued two arrest warrants - a civil contempt of court and a criminal contempt of court - for both Eduardo Ramos and his son Bernardo Ramos early last year after they failed to appear at a hearing on property they own south of Rantoul. Neither one had been apprehended until now. Bernardo Ramos is still being sought.
The Ramoses were ordered last April to close down Cherry Orchard Village apartment complex and fined more than $54,000 for failing to legally connect and repair sewage systems for six of the eight buildings on the property in a civil case file by the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District. Cherry Orchard Village apartments has been used as a migrant worker camp.
Eduardo Ramos and Bernardo Ramos have repeatedly declined comment on stories about their cases and their properties.
The arrest warrants were issued last May after the two repeatedly failed to attend court hearings on the matter, which began in 2007.
The arrest warrants were amended since they were first issued last May. Initially, the Ramoses had to post the full cash amount of each warrant, or a total of $20,000 each.
Then, when they failed to appear for another hearing, the judge said they were to be jailed until the sewage problem was repaired or the property was vacant.
Eduardo Ramos was released on his own recognizance and did not have to pay any bond, according to the Champaign County Sheriff's Office.
On Friday, a Champaign County judge dismissed the criminal complaint petition against Eduardo Ramos, according to Joel Fletcher, assistant state's attorney.
Fletcher said that the fines are under appeal and cannot be collected until the appellate court reviews.
Eduardo Ramos' attorney, Philip Summers was out of town last week and he was represented by Don Parkinson in court on Friday. Neither attorney returned a phone call seeking comment Tuesday morning.
Public Health Administrator Julie Pryde said the property remains vacant and cannot be used until the sewer system is legally repaired.
"Our main concern is that Cherry Orchard remain closed if they had not fixed the septic system, which they have not," Pryde said. "You know, barring that not getting fixed, we're not interested in seeing that re-opened because the situation in anyway has not been addressed."
Champaign County Planning and Zoning Director John Hall said he thinks the apartments should be torn down.
"It would be wonderful if someone would step in, buy the property, and fix it up over the court of a year," Hall said. "But the existing economic conditions, that's just not realistic. It's not going to happen. I don't believe it would ever happen to the extent that it should be."
Hall said he hasn't approached the Champaign County Board about demolishing the property.