Jury convicts landlord Frenz
A jury found Minneapolis Landlord Stephen Frenz guilty of perjury Friday afternoon.
The Hennepin County District Court jury found Frenz, 56, guilty after less than five hours of deliberation. The trial began Tuesday. He will be sentenced Dec. 20.
“We are very pleased with the jury’s verdict,” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said at a news conference following the verdict. “It’s unusual to do a perjury case, but he not only lied to the court but he lied to his tenants. I’m personally pleased because so many people were harmed: the employees, the pest control guy and the tenants. We think he knew what he was doing. He manufactured evidence.”
Freeman said he did not know what kind of a sentence his office would request from the judge, noting that the recommended sentence under the state’s guidelines is probation. He said it was possible his prosecutors would request a large fine. Time in the county work house and community service also are possibilities.
The conviction centered on the actions Frenz took in 2016 at one of his properties, a 17-unit apartment building at 3057 14th Ave. S. A Minneapolis neighborhood organization, IX of Powderhorn Park filed a tentants’ remedies action in Hennepin County District Court against Frenz and two of his companies.
The organization could only bring the court action with the written permission of a majority of the tenants in occupied units. Frenz later filed a motion with the judge for summary judgment and included his sworn affidavit stating that three additional units were occupied at the time of the court filing and, therefore, IX of Powderhorn Park did not have a majority of the tenants.
However, an investigation found that Frenz was lying about those three units being occupied, meaning his sworn affidavit was perjury. The evidence introduced in court included the pest control worker who had sprayed the three apartments and noted on the invoice that they were vacant. He testified Frenz asked him to submit a new invoice for the three units and not include the word vacant.