Elizabeth, NJ, Landlord Charged With Sex Crimes Against Seven More Tenants
ELIZABETH — Already arrested and charged with coercing more than a dozen tenants into sexual acts in exchange for housing assistance, the owner of hundreds of rental units across this city now faces additional charges against another seven victims, according to the Union County Prosecutor's Office.
That brings the number of alleged victims of Joseph Centanni, 74, of Mountainside, to 20, and the number of criminal charges against him to 35. He is newly charged with five counts of second-degree sexual assault and seven counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual contact.
Centanni allegedly described the sex acts he solicited as a "quid pro quo," offering tenants rent reduction, a stay of eviction, or other financial help. In some cases, he was accused of threatening those who spurned his advances with eviction.
Acting Union County Prosecutor Lyndsay V. Ruotolo, along with Elizabeth Police, said the alleged incidents took place from 2013 to 2020 and involved both male and female victims ranging in age from 22 to 61, but did not specify whether that timeframe and age range cover all offenses Centanni is charged with to date, or just the seven victims in the most recent charges.
Centanni, who owns units in 18 residential properties throughout Elizabeth, was first arrested and criminally charged in March after a federal lawsuit, which is still ongoing, was filed against him last summer.
Any potential additional victims, and anyone else with knowledge of Centanni's activities, are asked to call the Union County Prosecutor's Office at 908-477-1698.