LA Clippers owner pays millions in discrimination suit

WASHINGTON (AP) — Los Angeles Clippers owner and real estate mogul Donald Sterling has agreed to pay a record $2.725 million to settle allegations by the government that he refused to rent apartments to Hispanics, blacks and to families with children, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.

The Justice Department sued Sterling in August 2006 for allegations of housing discrimination in the Koreatown area of Los Angeles. Other defendants were Sterling’s wife, Rochelle, and the Sterling Family Trust.

The defendants allegedly made statements to employees indicating that African-Americans and Hispanics were not desirable tenants.

In addition to the pro basketball Clippers, Sterling owns and manages 119 apartment buildings with over 5,000 apartment units in Los Angeles County.

“The magnitude of this settlement should send a message to all landlords that we will vigorously pursue violations of the Fair Housing Act,” Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general for the civil rights division, said in a statement.

The settlement, which also covers two related lawsuits by former tenants at one of the Sterling properties, now will be considered by a federal judge. Under the settlement, Sterling and the other defendants would pay a $100,000 civil penalty to the government and would pay $2.625 million into a fund to pay monetary damages to tenants who were harmed.

The Justice Department’s previous record settlement for discrimination in the area of rental housing was $2.2 million in a 1996 case.

Sterling spokesman Robert Platt had no immediate comment.