Ownership of Ralston has been at question in wrongful death lawsuit

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The living conditions inside Ralston Towers have been at the center of testimony in a wrongful death lawsuit in a Columbus courtroom this week.

Attorneys for the estate of Charles Hart claim that those conditions — specifically lack of working air conditioning in his room – led to Hart’s death in 2017.

Four entities are named as defendants in State Court suit in front of Judge Andy Prather. Those entities are Ralston GA LLC, doing business as The Ralston; PF Ralston, LLC; PF Holdings, Inc.; and Schoolhouse Road Estates, Inc.

A former PF Holdings regional manager, Yaakov Litvin, was being sued by Hart’s daughter, Christina Thornton, but was let out of the case by Prather on Friday at the request of her attorney Charles Gower.

Litvin testified that he was not aware or involved in allegedly moving money away from one Ralston entity to another. For that reason, the plaintiffs dropped him from the suit.

The interaction between the various entities is confusing.

PF Holdings purchased the Ralston in a $10 million deal in 2014. Since that time, nearly $4 million has been moved from PF Holdings into Schoolhouse Road Estates LLC and then onto private interests.

Gower contends the maintenance issues at Ralston Towers would not exist if that money was used on the facility.

But one thing is not confusing. PF Holdings has a performance history in Columbus and Phenix City.

The New Jersey-based company not only owns the Ralston, but it also owns Eagles Trace Apartments in South Columbus and Edmond Estates in Phenix City.

That is nearly 800 low-income units where the rent is federally subsidized.

PF Holdings has had issues paying utility and other bills at all three local complexes going back to at least 2016. But it’s not just Columbus.

PF Holdings owns properties dependent on HUD subsidies across the country. And have been doing so since 1983. And there are lawsuits and property management issues in other cities.

But what has come out in testimony this week is that PF Holdings is not the controlling interest of Ralston Towers. That is Schoolhouse Road Estates Inc., with an address on 50th Street in Brooklyn, New York.

According to testimony, both companies are controlled by Chaim Puretz, a New York Real Estate investor.

Two people connected to the Ralston have been sitting at the defense table all week. One is Litvin and the other is Jewel Hearl, the compliance director for PF Holdings.

Under oath, both have denied knowledge about Schoolhouse Road Estates and its role in the company.

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