Toronto tenant Adam Buttigieg, who habitually fails to pay his rent and has been convicted of fraud and forging cheques and credit reports, was arrested and jailed Monday, moments after wrapping up an unrelated appearance at a North York courthouse.
Buttigieg’s rental and criminal history is part of an ongoing Star series into how some tenants exploit protections offered through the Landlord and Tenant Board. Privacy rules also mean landlords, or people who might want to rent property with them, can’t look up their record.
He was arrested at the courthouse on Monday because, according to a detective constable interested in questioning him, Buttigieg couldn’t be reached any other way.
Buttigieg was appearing at court because he failed to obey a judge’s order to pay back $9,900 to a former girlfriend, who he was convicted of defrauding in 2012.
As he waited to learn when he was expected to return to court to address his failure to pay, two Toronto police constables quietly entered the courtroom and positioned themselves on either side of the double doors at the back, at about 10 a.m.
Buttigieg, who had been shifting on the wooden benches and drumming his foot on the floor, didn’t seem to realize the police were there for him until just before he was called to stand before the judge.
After he was given a date to return he turned to walk out and was stopped and arrested.
Buttigieg was charged with failing to comply with undertaking, or meeting the conditions set out by police after he was arrested in May for allegedly stealing from and defrauding his former fiancée.
Det. Const. Christopher Bennoch, who laid 81 charges in that case, said he has been trying to reach Buttigieg to ask him some questions and couldn’t get him on the phone.
“I’ve been looking for him and was unable to reach him any other way,” said Bennoch, who said he was not confident the address Buttigieg provided to police was in fact where he was living.
The Star first published the details of Buttigieg’s rental and criminal history in July. At that time he was facing 147 criminal charges.
Buttigieg, after he was sent questions about his rental history and the charges, admitted to the Star he had been evicted from at least five properties since 2008 because he wrote bad cheques.
Tenants who have been ordered out of a property can write a cheque for what they owe to be held in trust by the board pending the outcome of a hearing. To buy time, on several occasions Buttigieg wrote cheques to the board he knew would bounce.
After the Star story, one of his many former landlords sent tribunal documents showing Buttigieg has been evicted from a rental unit in a building on the Queensway in August, after he failed to pay rent.
In that case, as with many others, Buttigieg wrote the board a cheque to stall his eviction. That cheque, dated June 9 and for $7,170, bounced on June 10, according to tribunal documents.
The next day, Buttigieg arrived at the Star and during a 90-minute interview promised he was committed to living an honest life.
About a month later, he pleaded guilty to 10 of 66 charges against him, admitting he wrote bad cheques to two landlords and a bank, altered credit reports and forged cheques using the equipment and logo of his former employer.
He was handed a 12-month conditional sentence and 12 months probation, and told he was under house arrest, but would be allowed to attend court.
Buttigieg’s bail hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.