KIYC: Landlord cleared of accusations he wouldn’t rent to Muslim tenants

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ELIZABETH -

An Elizabeth landlord has been cleared of allegations that he failed to rent an apartment to a woman because she was Muslim.

Jurors were not allowed to view footage from a 2016 Kane In Your Corner segment in which the landlord compared the prospective tenant to the terrorist Islamic State group. It took jurors less than an hour to acquit Bill Greda of civil rights charges filed by the New Jersey attorney general.  

“I want to thank the jury for the decision,” Greda said. “Through five days of testimony, they found out what happened.” 

New Jersey Attorney General’s Office spokesperson Leland Moore said, "We respectfully disagree with the jury's verdict and are reviewing our legal options."  

In 2016, Fatma Farghaly accused Greda of refusing to rent an apartment to her because she was wearing a head covering. “He said ‘I don’t rent to Muslims,’” she told Kane In Your Corner.  Farghaly had cellphone video of the incident, but it was inconclusive. She said she only started recording after the comment was made.

Then-New Jersey Attorney General Christopher Porrino said his office verified Farghaly’s complaint, however, by sending undercover agents into the apartment complex to act as prospective renters. He says Greda refused to rent to a female agent dressed in traditional Muslim attire. 

Jurors felt otherwise. Greda’s attorney, Vincent Sanzone, said “Bill said to her when she was leaving, ‘The apartment might not be good for you because it had flooding in the past, and it's very difficult for a female to sometimes lift things up’” He said, “It really showed the desperation of the state to try to find something against Bill.” Sanzone also said Greda has had at least one Muslim tenant in the past.

In the end, the case may have hinged primarily on something jurors were not allowed to see: video of a 2016 Kane In Your Corner segment in which Greda made inflammatory comments. He told a producer he believed he was the victim of “a division of bad Muslims extorting money from businesses,” and said of Farghaly and her companion, “They're Muslim extremists, that's what they are, ISIS. They came in for apartment and they attacked me.” 

While the video was not played in court, Sanzone said Greda was allowed to be questioned about the comments.

Asked by News 12 New Jersey’s Walt Kane why he made those comments two years ago, Greda started to answer before his attorney quickly cut him off. 

“The case was about extortion,” Greda said, adding “Muslim is a religion and like I would say…” Sanzone interrupted before he could go any further, saying Greda was having “trouble articulating his position.” 

The attorney says his client considers the allegations against him to be “extortion” simply because he denies making anti-Muslim comments.

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