Landlord Carlton Joseph cameto court this morning in the hopes of redeeming some back rent from a tenant who wouldn’t pay up. He ended up renting out another piece of property: his cell phone.
Joseph has been trying to secure the rent from Karina Okoro, who occupies a one-bedroom unit in Joseph’s 23-unit Petworth apartment building, since November of last year. At one point, marshals arrived at the complex ready to evict Okoro, who asked for an hour to get Joseph his money. When he came to collect, she was gone.
At her court date in front of Judge Joan Zeldon this morning, Okoro again proved a no-show. During the course of the proceedings, it was suggested that Okoro may be in a more relaxed state than her anxious landlord—-she was spending some time in Florida.
Zeldon, unable to make long-distance phone calls from the court’s land line, asked to borrow Joseph’s cell phone in order to give Okoro a little tinkle. Later, Zeldon realized that despite Okoro’s exotic locale, the number was kosher to call from court.
But Okoro failed to make a long-distance appearance as well. “Tell her this is Judge Zeldon calling from the bench,” Zeldon said to whoever was screening Okoro’s calls. She had a message regarding the landlord. “It looks like she’s just stonewalling him, and I just really can’t permit that to happen.”
Reporting by Ruth Samuelson