A Fall River landlord appeared in District Court on Wednesday for a probable cause hearing on 13 counts of child endangerment related to the city's condemning of properties he formerly owned at 265 and 267 Count Street that were shut down in June.
A judge is expected to decide soon if the criminal charges against David Colville will hold up in court.
Each charge carries a maximum penalty of 2 1/2 years behind bars. If convicted, Colville could face more than 32 years in prison.
City inspectors found deplorable conditions at the County Street properties citing violations that included exposed wiring, filth, mold, defective plumbing and rat and roach infestations.
The city plans to continue investigating the remainder of Colville's properties. He owned 39 properties in the city and seven have already been shut down.
Colville's attorney, Kenneth Fredette, called the child endangerment charges "outrageous".
"This is all the city acting on a single day on June 19, 2013. There's no evidence that my client refused, at any time, to take care of any issues in his buildings," Fredette said.
The city disagrees.
"Mr. Colville, as a landlord, has a duty to his tenants, including the children who lived in both buildings, a duty to keep at least the common hallways safe for his tenants, and he failed to do so," said city representative Liz Sousa.
Dozens of tenants have been forced out of the shuttered buildings.
The city also claims Colville owes $500,000 in back taxes.