MACON, Ga. — A Macon motel owner is in jail after a Macon-Bibb County judge found him guilty of several code violations. In 2020, Rasheed Virani purchased the Magnolia Court Motel on Houston Road. He paid $1.2 million in cash, but since then, the space has become unlivable.
What was once a thriving Macon motel is now the site of debris, multiple code violations, and looting.
"They've tore the ceilings out to get wires and copper out of the ceiling, anything that’s wire, metal," neighboring business owner Jeremy Pitts said.
Pitts bought the building next to the motel in 2016.
He says he's seen the worst with his own eyes, and now, it’s affecting his business.
"Two weeks of them condemning the hotel, they broke into my shop and stole all my impacts, my drills, my batteries, plasma cutter -- all the stuff that we use to do our job," Pitts said.
The motel's water and electricity was disconnected due to nonpayment in March, leading to an evacuation order.
Since then, Rasheed Virani, the property owner, faced multiple code violations for sanitation, exposed wires, deteriorating structure, and electrical hazards.
"All of these violations are different ways of showing how they were basically operating a slum," Attorney David Cooke told 13WMAZ.
David Cooke represented Macon-Bibb County in municipal court Friday.
After presenting more than a dozen exhibits of neglect, he suggested Virani spend two weeks in jail.
"As I thought about it, I thought all of these people had to move to a place that they didn't want to go to not at a time of their choosing, not to a place of their choosing, so I thought this defendant deserved the same medicine," Cooke said.
More than 30 people were displaced due to lack of water and electricity. However, the property owner maintained in court that he had no idea about the conditions of this motel.
Virani was arrested in court Friday morning. A judge sentenced him to seven days in jail and ordered him to pay a $6,000 fine. The judge says those fines and potential jail time could continue if he does not comply with either fixing or demolishing the property.
Since the March inspection, the motel has been stripped of the tourist accommodations permit pending corrective actions.
Macon-Bibb code enforcement visited the property Thursday and says it was in worse condition than on the first visit.