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City prosecutors ask judge to throw Cincinnati landlord in jail for violating stalking order

CINCINNATI — A longtime Cincinnati landlord is a "danger to the community" and should be jailed until his criminal stalking case is over, according to a motion filed on June 25 by Cincinnati's City Solicitor.

City prosecutors accuse the landlord, John Klosterman, 71, of repeatedly violating a civil stalking protection order that requires him to stay at least 500 feet away from his alleged victim, to not contact her or her employer, and to not encourage anyone else to contact her.

Lot Tan

The I-Team interviews the alleged stalking victim in 2020

The alleged victim is one of Klosterman's former tenants.

"John has continued to make my life hell by skirting the boundaries of the protection order," said the woman who accuses Klosterman of stalking her. "I have no peace."

WCPO normally does not use anonymous sources. In this case, the WCPO 9 I-Team agreed to not identify the woman because she's an alleged crime victim who is afraid, and she believes that she's less at risk in her own neighborhood if we don't identify her.

Klosterman "is engaging in illegal and unethical business practices under the guise of taking care of his personal affairs in order to continue causing emotional distress to the victim," wrote Susan Zurface, trial counsel for the city, in her motion to revoke Klosterman's bond.

The next court hearing is scheduled for July 7.

It's the latest chapter in Klosterman's legal problems that began two decades ago when city building inspectors first cited him for code violations at his rental properties.

John Klosterman at a November 2020 court hearing

WCPO staff

John Klosterman at a November 2020 court hearing

In 2016, a judge sentenced Klosterman to 60 days in jail for his "willful disregard" about a "hazardous" property he owned, according to court records.

Court records show a receivership controls dozens of Klosterman's properties in the Sedamsville neighborhood because he failed to pay a $578,000 court judgment for unpaid city taxes, violations, fines and fees.

Tri-State Organization is the property manager for the receivership. Klosterman's alleged victim works for the company.

"Klosterman has made innumerable complaints, attacking the victim's employer," Zurface wrote in her motion. "Within the past few weeks, at least thirty (30) complaints have been made by Defendant to the City of Cincinnati. Defendant has also contacted other local, State and Federal agencies and made false allegations relating to Tri-State Organization. Most of these complaints have been investigated, at great expense to each of those agencies and to Tri-State Organization."

In Sept. 2020, Klosterman and his wife, Sue, reached a Consent Decree with the United States Attorney's Office that bans them from renting or managing residential rental properties.

Under the Consent Decree, the Klostermans are also required to pay $167,000 to 20 other women who said John Klosterman violated the Fair Housing Act by sexually harassing them while they rented from him.

"In this settlement, Klosterman acknowledges that the United States has evidence he sexually harassed tenants on multiple occasions,” said then-U.S. Attorney David M. DeVillers in a Sept. 2020 news release.

DeVillers called Klosterman's conduct "heinous."

According to the city's motion, Klosterman owns and actively manages residential rental properties in Sedamsville that are not part of the receivership, a violation of the federal Consent Decree.

634 Delhi Avenue in Cincinnati

Craig Cheatham

634 Delhi Avenue in Cincinnati

In February, one of Klosterman's new companies, Bridges and Rivers, LLC, purchased a house at 634 Delhi Ave., according to records on the Hamilton County Auditor's website.

"On June 16, 2021, it was discovered that the water to this unit was shut off due to a second floor leak," wrote Zurface in her motion in municipal court. "Defendant told the tenant at 634 Delhi that, pending resumption of water service, the tenant could shower in another residential located at 621/623 Delhi, which is owned by Mr. Klosterman's company, John Jennagans LLC. That property is also NOT in the receivership."

Part of an exterior wall is missing on the house at 621 Delhi Avenue in Cincinnati

Craig Cheatham

Part of an exterior wall is missing on the house at 621 Delhi Avenue in Cincinnati

According to the Consent Decree, the Klostermans are required to notify the United States Attorney's Office within 30 days of acquiring a direct or indirect management or ownership of residential rental property that's not part of the receivership.

The Klostermans are also required to have a property manager approved by federal prosecutors for rental housing that's not part of the receivership, according to the Consent Decree.

In the city's motion, Zurface wrote, Klosterman "has never submitted agent information to the Federal Prosecutors office."

In her motion, Zurface wrote that Klosterman has interfered with Tri-State Organization's management of properties in the receivership and has interacted with tenants of those properties, which is prohibited under the receivership and Consent Decree.

The Klostermans could be fined up to $100,000 for each violation of the Consent Decree, according to a federal statute cited in the agreement.

The Consent Decree is in effect until October 2025, but it can be extended "if one or more Defendants violates one or more terms of the Decree or if the interests of justice so require," according to the agreement.

"The U.S. Attorney's Office is closely monitoring compliance with the Consent Decree and would be willing to take further steps if those measures are warranted," said Fred Alverson, spokesman for the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Ohio.

The Cincinnati Solicitor's office has not responded to the I-Team's requests for comment on the Klosterman case.

Last November, Municipal Judge Brad Greenberg revoked Klosterman's bond after prosecutors charged him for the fourth time with violating the protection order.

Court records show Greenberg later set a $150,000 bond for Klosterman, who posted the bond.

Greenberg also required Klosterman to be placed on "lockdown status" at Klosterman's home.

In addition, Klosterman must wear an electronic monitoring device.

"The victim cannot be protected from Defendant's actions while he remains out on bond and EMD," Zurface wrote in her motion to Greenberg.

In a text message to the I-Team, Klosterman declined our request for an interview.

"No comment," Klosterman responded. "But be there at court. Hear for yourself."

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