Housing Complex

Vincent Abell Wants to Buy City-Owned Vacant Property

3022 Channing Street N.E.

Does the name Vincent Abell ring a bell?

It probably doesn't. But here's why it might: Back in July, City Paper wrote a story about several landlords accused of negligence in a lawsuit from the city. Abell was among them.

Last April, Attorney General Peter Nickles filed the suit against "23 of the very worst 'slumlords,' asking the court to put many of their properties into receivership so the city could make sure rents got spent on making repairs. A few weeks later, Nickles released a revised list, touting the addition of several more landlords."

Now, Abell wants to buy one of the vacant properties auctioned off on January 30 by the city. Abell had the top bid on 3022 Channing Street N.E.

Here's what we wrote about Abell:

  1. Vincent Abell
  2. Abell's home in Silver Spring

    Vincent Abell and Marta Bertola bought their big white house in Silver Spring in 2004 for $1.2 million. The 1982 wooden house, with plantation columns and rows of shuttered windows, has six bathrooms, three fireplaces, a four-car garage, and a pool out back.

    I ring the bell and wait. The vestibule is cluttered with garden implements and household bric-a-brac, a Buddhist statue, a can of WD-40. The paint on the front door is chipped. A teenage boy opens up, then closes the door in my face to go fetch his father. A moment later, a balding man wearing a bluetooth headset and broken glasses asks me to come inside. Abell, 54, says he’d be happy to talk about the city’s case and leads me through his shabby-chic home—honey woods, pastel upholstery, faux Colonial wallpaper—to a little sitting room with two small couches. He explains that the suit dings him only for failing to obtain business licenses for two dozen properties—not for housing-code violations.

    I remember coming across a few nasty rumors about Abell on the Internet—a conviction for fraud, a critical story in the Post. I ask him if he’s had legal troubles before or found his name in the papers. He shrugs and says sure he’s been written about, but he can’t really remember. I’ve read about so many landlords in the last few weeks, I figure I got him confused with someone else. Abell’s wife and business partner, Marta Bertola, comes in then, and Abell assures her I’m not to be feared. We have a few laughs, and I head home.

    Abell's rental on Q Street NW

    I plug their names into the computer again. Abell was being modest. He gets lots of attention in the papers. In 1989, he served six months in federal prison for lying to federal housing officials. More recently, he’s been sued several times for scamming senior citizens out of their homes. Most of the cases accuse Abell of approaching the owners of homes at risk of foreclosure, offering to help erase the debt, and walking away with the deed.

    This January, five elderly D.C. residents settled with Abell for $500,000. And in February, 72-year-old Walter Malone, who also lost his home to Abell, testified before a Senate hearing: “People like Mr. Abell,” he said, “make their living by hitting you when you’re down, all the while pretending they’re helping you.”

    Abell was right about one thing: The city’s suit accuses him only of failing to obtain business licenses for his rental properties. I visit one of his listed buildings, 424 Q St. NW. No one answers the door. It’s a beautiful brick building that stretches far back from the street. As recently as six months ago, neighbors say, Abell was renting out six units. But he never kept the place up, and people slowly moved out—which perhaps explains why Abell isn’t in bigger trouble. Neighbors believe one woman still lives in a back unit, but she doesn’t come out very often. Meanwhile, the front stoop has become a late-night gathering place for local hoodlums, and the piles of trash are growing.

    When I call Abell back to ask about his record, he tells me, “You should write your article about positive things.” He says his criminal conviction resulted from his own benevolence; he forgave the down payment on a house. “That was 25 years ago,” he says. As for the Q Street building, he says he’s been planning on making repairs for months now. Late last year, he says he offered to let the tenants live in another of his buildings while he did the work. They didn’t want to wait, then mysteriously moved out over the next six months. Abell claims it had nothing to do with his upkeep. He says no one lives there anymore and he’s just waiting for the city to approve his building permit.

According to a spokesperson for Nickles' office, "the case against Mr. Abell was dismissed after he provided proof of basic business licenses and/or certificate of occupancies for all properties named in the petition that was owned by him."

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  • mamma bear

    Vincent Abell has a 25 year history of comitting real estate fraud. He's still at it. He'll use anyone to get what he wants. He'll use his kids, parents - anyone. Don't trust him.....back away from him because any supposed partnership will drag you into a tax and legal nightmare. Ask his kids............

  • blkbird

    Vincent Abell is a walking nightmare. He's still involed in mortgage rescue scams. My sister knows all to well about how he operates. First getting his name on your deed and the stripping the equity from your home,$50,000 in this case. This is his specialty. The Federal Trade Commission and the Attorney General's Office should be investigating this man, he is a thief and has broken many laws by he is still aloud to walk the streets. He should be in JAIL.

  • Ms P

    I am also a victim of Vincent Abell and Marta Bartola and Calvin Baltimore, see channel 4 news archive of broadcast report of my emotional distress. Four years later and I am in financial bondage of trying to turn around a four year litigation where he stole my home under the pretense of rescuing me from foreclosure. I was fortunate to regain my home, but the judge in this case not familiar with his predatory schemes awarded him monies and negated the emotional damage I experienced while caring for two elderly parents who were 91 and 95 yrs lived traumatized not knowing from day to day if we would be homeless or not. Modern Mgt and his staff, a team of white collar thieves an slum lord.

  • Gretchen

    This man is a SNAKE. We bought a property from him last year (most likely a property he scammed from someone), he is under warranty for a variety of repairs that he hasn't done, his "contractors" aren't licensed in DC and do the work work i've ever seen. His "Modern Management" staff is useless. Additionally, he has collected condo fees from us, but hasn't paid ANY of the bills. Yesterday, we found out we had a lien against our property for an unpaid water bill.

    I have heard from his own staff that he spends his time during the day either in settlements or in court. He shouldn't be allowed to conduct any sort of real estate business, and his realtor, Ros Abitbol at Habitat should be held equally responsible for not disclosing his black record.

  • http://Gogle.com Roland A Slaughter

    I also was scammed by Vicent Abel. the man should be put under the jail. I lived in Largo,MD and he scammed me out of my townhouse. I went to all types of Lawyers and could not get any sastifaction. What's the problem with the law not recognizing a real true crook? To me he is the lower than a BUG on the ground and it is time for him
    to be stomped on.

  • just visiting

    what price glory?