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Santa Barbara Landlord Dario Pini Faces Criminal Misdemeanor Over Alleged OSHA Violation

A Santa Barbara landlord is facing a criminal misdemeanor charge after he allegedly continued work on a downtown construction site after he was told to cease by state officials.

Dario Pini is the owner of numerous rental and hotel properties, including the Fiesta Inn and Suites on State Street.  

The inn is one of several that Pini has been ordered to repair and upgrade around Santa Barbara.

In 2012, the city filed a lawsuit against him, alleging that many of the landlord’s properties, including rental housing, are “public nuisances” that threaten the community’s safety.

Many of the properties were put under the review of retired Santa Barbara County District Attorney Stan Roden, a mediator with the Superior Court’s Dispute Resolution Program who is serving as the special master of Pini’s properties.

Last year, city officials said that Pini had not met key deadlines on the inn project and would likely face more fines.

Pini now finds himself facing a criminal misdemeanor charge.

“The basics of the charge are that he worked through a stop-work order,” said Casey Nelson, who is prosecuting the misdemeanor case for the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office. 

Between Oct. 12 and 23, 2015, Pini allowed construction workers on the site to continue working through a prohibition to work from Cal/OSHA, Nelson said.

Pini’s attorney, Larry Powell, said Thursday that he has not had a chance to read through the discovery documents yet.

“All we got was a letter from the DA saying that there was a labor violation,” he said.

Julia Bernstein of the California Department of Industrial Relations confirmed to Noozhawk Wednesday that Cal/OSHA opened an investigation into one of Pini's companies, DP Investments, on Oct. 12, 2015.

“It is an open and ongoing investigation,” she said, adding that she couldn’t comment further.

Pini’s arraignment is scheduled to take place Feb. 17 in Santa Barbara County Superior Court.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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