Landlord sentenced to house arrest at the Ritz

CANTON, Ohio - A landlord was sentenced to spend 30 days' house arrest at the Ritz. But there won't be any room service.

Municipal Judge Richard Kubilus also ordered Tom Bonacuse to bring the four-story apartment building, called the Ritz, and two other rental properties up to code. Bonacuse faces five months in jail if the improvements aren't made.

"Jail's easy, but being in the Ritz -- spending 24 hours a day, seven days a week in a dilapidated, run-down building -- to me, that's real punishment," City Attorney Jason Reese said.

Bonacuse, 71, pleaded no contest Thursday to misdemeanor charges of failing to have an occupancy certificate, which the city requires as proof that a building is safe to live in.

Only a few people live in the 30-unit Ritz, a high-end rental property decades ago before drug users and squatters destroyed it, Reese said.

"They've tore this place apart," he said. "There's hanging wires, broken windows, glass smashed in the hallways. There have been roach problems. It's just a rough place."

Bonacuse, who lives in Lake Mohawk, about 15 miles southeast of Canton, had no comment, said his attorney, Herb Morello.

"His desire is to have these buildings up to city code as soon as possible, and he has every intention of complying with this request and the laws of this city," Morello said.

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