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November 20, 2017

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Summerlin hoarder escapes jail sentence, ordered to pay $95K for cleanup

Attorney says TV show “Hoarders” would have paid for work but city acted first

The good news for a Sun City Summerlin resident who filled his home with tons of garbage, live and dead cats, and other hoarded objects, including six refrigerators, is that a judge on Tuesday gave him a suspended 358-day jail sentence.

A Municipal Court judge, in opting against sending Kenneth Epstein, 55, to jail, ordered him to continue therapy, keep his home open for inspections and take in no pets without court approval.

The bad news is that the bill for cleaning Epstein’s hoarder’s-paradise home came to $95,553.08. That includes:

• City code enforcement staff: $24,174.90

• Health District staff: $13,216

• Tools/Supplies: $3,053.55

• Storage containers: $2,386.56

• 800-Got-Junk (junk removal business): $25,432

• Fumigation: $9,778.27

• Testing for hazardous materials: $3,000

• Security: $856.80

• Pest control: $425

• Demolition: $13,230

Epstein was arrested in Oct. 12 at his duplex at 9517 Gold Bank Drive on six misdemeanor charges: failure to register a pistol; unjustifiable injury to animals; failure to have a cat fanciers license; violating the fire code; and two counts of public nuisance.

Representing Epstein, attorney Kristina Wildeveld said the court’s order was in the best interest of the city and her client, who pleaded no contest.

“The city’s goal and our goal is to see that Mr. Epstein can live a healthy, full life,” Wildeveld said.

Epstein has asked for a more detailed list of the cleanup costs, Wildeveld said, adding that “He cannot afford this kind of expense. We just want to be sure none of the costs are inflated.”

A city spokesman said a formal invoice was being prepared.

Wildeveld added that Epstein had other options for taking care of his home that would have cost much less. In fact, Wildeveld had contacted the television show, "Hoarders," on the A&E cable network; and after seeing photos of Epstein’s home and hearing his story, Wildeveld said, the show wanted to use Epstein’s story for one of its episodes. In doing so, the show would have taken on all expenses related to Epstein’s therapy, care and the cleaning of his home.

By the time Wildeveld was hired to represent Epstein, however, she said the city's work had already begun on the Gold Bank Drive home.

An administrative warrant was issued Oct. 4 that allowed city staff to rid Epstein’s home of health hazards including dead animals, feces, rodents, decaying food and other contaminated possessions. An Oct. 11 warrant allowed for the removal of contaminated drywall, insulation, ductwork, flooring, windows and window frames.

At least 41 tons of material were removed from the home, including 55 cats, 15 of which were dead and 19 that were later euthanized.

Epstein is currently receiving treatment at Rawson Neal Psychiatric Center, Wildeveld said.

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