The owner of the Skylane Motel could be facing criminal charges for allegedly removing placards at the motel and at least 75 more violations stemming from an ongoing investigation into the electrical engineering of the building.
At the first appearance in the court case between the Town of Colonie and Skylane owner Alex Patel on Thursday, Jan. 23, Patel pleaded not guilty to 254 violations.
The motel was supposed to be entirely vacant by 4 p.m. Jan. 24, but town officials contend that placards notifying residents that the motel would be closing had been removed. As a result, the people living there were given an extra week to find alternative housing.
Assistant Town Attorney Rebekah Kennedy said Colonie police are investigating whether or not Patel could be charged with obstruction of governmental administration. Depending on the degree of the crime it can be either a misdemeanor or a felony. Someone had reportedly told the tenants at the motel that it wasn’t closing and they didn’t have to leave.
An initial investigation into the conditions at the hotel started in December when a man fell through the floor and was injured, giving the town probable cause to obtain a search warrant to inspect the safety and structural integrity of the building.
During the investigation, mold was discovered growing in the rooms, heat and hot water didn’t work in many of the rooms, electrical wiring was exposed and numerous other health and safety violations were discovered. The inspection that occurred in December resulted in 34 tickets for 254 violations.
An engineer is still conducting a study of the electrical wiring and is expecting to find another 75 to 100 violations.
Colonie Town Attorney Mike Maggiulli estimates the fines for the violations to reach close to $750,000.
The violations will be presented at the next trial that is set to take place April 17.