A NORTHEAST Philadelphia man has filed a federal lawsuit against the city and inspectors who work or used to work with its anti-blight Community Life Improvement Program.
Steven Tengood, 62, contends in the suit that he was a victim of a broader conspiracy "that targeted elderly or otherwise vulnerable citizens" of the city.
His suit, filed last Friday, says he has suffered psychologically and monetarily from battling the city in court over property-code violations issued against him.
It says inspectors began mailing him violation notices in September 2008 to try to get inside his house. Tengood's attorney, Joshua Upin, said yesterday that although he doesn't have evidence of things being taken from inside the house, he contends Tengood "was in fact being keyed up" to be "a next victim" of a larger ploy.
He said inspectors took items from Tengood's yard, including canned goods and a jacket.
But "really the issue here is not so much what was taken . . . but the issue of rights and privacy rights in particular," Upin said.
CLIP made news two years ago when nine people who worked as supervisors or crew members were found by a state grand jury to have stolen items, including guns, cash and furniture, from five Northeast homes from June 2006 to January 2008.
One of those nine - Rycharde "Rick" Sicinski - is a defendant in the current suit. He has pleaded guilty in Common Pleas Court to charges in the state case.
The federal lawsuit claims Sicinski and other inspectors engaged in racketeering activities and seeks more than $925,000.
Mark McDonald, a city spokesman, said the city does not comment on pending lawsuits.