A San Francisco couple accepted a four-year prison sentence and two strikes for terrorizing and threatening the safety of tenants they wanted out of their apartment building.
Nicknamed the “landlords from hell,” Kip and Nicole Macy originally fled to Italy to avoid trial. They were apprehended last year. The couple accepted the prison sentence rather than go on trial, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said in a statement on Wednesday.
"The actions of these defendants are so outlandish and brazen that it sounds like the plot line of a horror movie," Gascon said.
The Macys bought a building in 2005 in the city’s South of Market district, which had five tenants they wanted out.
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The couple tried to evict a tenant, Scott Morrow. When Morrow sued, Nicole Macy, 37, opened a fraudulent email account and told Morrow’s attorney his services were no longer need. Later Nicole emailed a threat to kidnap and dismember the lawyer’s children in an attempt to make Morrow appear unstable.
"One day you are going to come home to the Victorian house ... and find [your three children] missing," she wrote "Then each day a package will arrive with a piece of them.”
The next month, Kip Macy, 38, sawed through the floorboards of Morrow’s apartment while the tenant was at home.
After a Department of Building Inspection indentified a load-bearing beam in the basement, which if cut would force all tenants to move out, Nicole severed it.
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The couple cut off gas, power and water to units on several occasions. They changed locks on doors. They put glue in the locks of one apartment, doused the tenants’ belongings with ammonia and stole jewelry and cash. They even had one apartment boarded up from outside while the tenant was home.
The building manager alleges that Kip once threatened him with a semi-automatic handgun. Other tenants said they received death threats in the mail.
Arrested in April 2008, the software designer and his real estate agent wife posted a half million dollars in bail and fled the country to Italy. Kip wrote an open letter to the San Francisco sheriff on his blog stating that the couple did not have enough money to buy a fair trial.
"Lacking the deep pockets to provide a balanced viewpoint and accountability in the court we had little choice but to leave after having watched the judges break the law one too many times," Kip wrote.
They were apprehended and send back to the United States in 2012. They are held on $2 billion bond each.
Pleading guilty to felony counts of residential burglary, stalking and attempted grand theft, Kip’s attorney, Lisa DewBerry, said they might have had to face up to 16 years in jail if they had been trial on all charges.
She claims Gascon accepted the four-year sentence because he "knew he could not prove everything so he settled for one quarter of the time that he charged."