By Shereen Siewert
A Wausau landlord whose property was declared unfit for human habitation due to issues ranging from cockroaches to a non-functioning heating system is facing criminal charges after he allegedly hid multiple condemnation orders from tenants.
Police say Bryan Morel, of Mosinee, rented the apartments illegally after he tore down condemnation notices and continued to collect rent from several tenants, claiming the city’s property inspector was “harassing him.”
One tenant told police living conditions at the apartment were “the worst I ever experienced,” according to a criminal complaint filed Sept. 30 in Marathon County Circuit Court. In addition to a “major roach infestation,” the same tenant told police he repaired burst pipes last winter himself, after multiple attempts to contact Morel were unsuccessful, so other residents would have running water.
“[The tenant] was left in a lease with a landlord he could not contact, in an apartment he did not know was condemned, making repairs out of his own pocket,” a police report reads.
Another tenant told police Morel came and ripped out the shower in his apartment in July 2020 and never put in a new working unit, then shut off the power.
“[The tenant]” has been doing without since,” the report reads.
Now, Morel is facing four felony charges of theft by false representation, along with misdemeanor charges of tampering with a public notice and violating a notice of unfitness for occupancy.
The entire building at 738 S. Third Ave., was declared unfit in February 2019, after which a property inspector posted a condemnation notice. After the declaration, official postings were removed numerous times, police said. When tenants asked about the postings, Morel allegedly told them “not to worry about it” and failed to inform residents the property was condemned.
The apartments were situated above the former Its Our Clubhouse And Yours, which Morel also owned. The Wausau City Council in 2015 voted to pull the liquor license at the bar following a shootout and other calls to police at the establishment, according to a Sept. 8, 2015 story in the Wausau Daily Herald. During the proceedings, Morell said he and his staff were “victims of those crimes,” the WDH report states. The city received 137 calls to Its Our Clubhouse in a 13-month span.
The building has since been town down.
Morel will be summoned into court Oct. 20 for an initial appearance in the case. He is not in custody at this time.