RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – After 30 days in jail, Oliver Lawrence will spend the rest of his sentence in one of his blighted properties, instead of his million dollar suburban mansion. Joan Laverne looks out from her porch on 19th street, having just heard the story about her landlord.
"It does take him a long time to fix something. You gotta keep on begging, begging, begging," said Joan.
Joan rents from Oliver Lawrence, owner of Bayou Properties, who was given 30 days in jail, followed by 40 days in home confinement at a house, just two doors away from her own. The vacant property is one of dozens in Richmond owned by Lawrence, whose record includes more than 180 convictions on property maintenance violations.
What makes the sentence so unusual - is that city attorneys supported home confinement, as long as it was at the $70,000 house in the East End and not, at Lawrence's million dollar red brick mansion in Ashland.
Everything about his Ashland house is huge, including the carport, which at 667 square feet, is only slightly smaller than the house where Lawrence will be serving his sentence.
The Ashland house, built in 2003, has more than seven thousand square feet. The Richmond house, built in 1936, has less than 800...not including the shed, which was home to some hypodermic needles and fecal matter, the last time an inspector looked at it. Still - neighbors say Lawrence will learn to love it.
"Really nice houses in this area. Some nice people. Very quiet," said resident Leroy Slater.
"Used to be worse than this but its quiet down…real quiet," Joan said.
Lawrence will also serve on the city jail's inmate work crew which helps clean up blighted properties. Perhaps, even some of his own.
It's unclear what Lawrence will do after he completes his sentence. The city does not have an agreement in place that would keep him here beyond the 40 days.