Fagen owes 4 months' rent, faces eviction

Democratic councilman Michael Fagen responds to a presentation

Democratic councilman Michael Fagen responds to a presentation by an external auditor regarding Long Beach's struggling finances. (Feb. 6, 2012) (Credit: Danielle Finkelstein)

Long Beach City Councilman Michael Fagen faces possible eviction from his home for allegedly failing to pay more than $12,000 in back rent, court documents state.

Fagen, a councilman since 2009, owes landlord Jason Schatzberg more than four months of rent, according to court papers filed in Long Beach City Court. Fagen rents a home from Schatzberg on Armour Street in the Canals neighborhood of the East End.

The court filings state that Schatzberg has terminated Fagen's lease and has petitioned for a warrant to remove Fagen from the home and for a judgment in the amount of $12,762 for the back rent.

The case is due in court on June 19, but Fagen said it will not get that far, as he and Schatzberg are close to a settlement.

Schatzberg's attorney, Leslie Martin Shamis, of Long Beach, declined to comment on the case.

Fagen said he withheld rent because of a lack of heat during the winter. But he intends to pay the back rent and reach a settlement with Schatzberg by Thursday.

"I really do want to stay here," Fagen said, adding that he is "dying to get this thing settled."

Court filings state that Schatzberg first warned Fagen of a possible lease termination in March.

The city is monitoring the case because City Council members must have a domicile within the city limits, Long Beach attorney Corey Klein said.

"It's a wait and see," Klein said.

The eviction proceedings coincide with an unrelated criminal case against Fagen, who was indicted in February on felony charges that he illegally collected more than $14,000 in unemployment benefits.

Fagen was indicted by a grand jury on charges of third-degree grand larceny, petty larceny and 38 counts of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing.

Investigators found he hid his government job from the state Department of Labor to collect the unemployment benefits, prosecutors have said.

Fagen's attorney in that case has said Fagen's political opponents set him up and the councilman has professed his innocence. The case is due back in court on June 26.

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