Bridgeport, Connecticut Landlord Pays $15,000 for Race Discrimination

A hearing officer has found a Bridgeport landlord guilty of discrimination in violation of the state's fair housing laws, and it appears this illegal practice will cost Patrick Menillo in excess of $15,000.

Calling Mr. Menillo's conduct "an egregious overt violation," hearing officer Donald Holtman handed down a decision following two days of testimony which may be one of the largest penalties levied against a Bridgeport landlord in a case of this nature. A complaint had been filed by a Black couple Tyrrone Cohen and Antoinette Hutchinson, both of Bridgeport, against Mr. Menillo with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights & Opportunities approximately two years ago. The couple alleged they were denied the right to rent an apartment owned by Mr. Menillo because of their race and color.

Cohen and Hutchinson had been assisted with the filing of their complaint by the City of Bridgeport's Fair Housing Office.

Subsequent to the filing, the Fair Housing Association of Connecticut was able to procure the services of a local law firm Zeldes, Needle and Cooper - to represent the couple in their complaint. Following a cause finding by the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights & Opportunities in January of 1994 that a discriminatory practice has been committed, the case was set for public hearing in December that year.