Hampton landlord faces federal indictment for harassing African American tenants, defrauding government, DOJ says

David Merryman, 58, faces dozens of charges, including wire fraud and interfering with housing rights.

HAMPTON, Va. — A Hampton landlord is facing a federal indictment for threatening African American tenants, and defrauding tenants and the government, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said Thursday.

David Merryman, 58, is charged with ten counts of wire fraud; four counts of interfering with housing rights; two counts of interstate communications with threats to injure; six counts of theft of government money; four counts of making false statements to the Department of Housing and Urban Development; and four counts of aggravated identity theft.

The DOJ said Merryman, who owns more than 60 rental properties in Hampton and Newport News, “repeatedly harassed his tenants with racist slurs, threats to kill or injure, and retaliatory eviction actions.” He is also accused of assault and other threatening behavior towards tenants.

“The alleged threats and racial harassment were often highly graphic and included references to slavery and mocking comments about the Black Lives Matter movement,” the DOJ wrote in a news release.

His victims include a businessman, a Newport News city official, and four tenants, according to the department.

The DOJ also said Merryman is accused of defrauding tenants and the government to obtain rent relief benefits, housing assistance payments for public housing, and other funds. 

This isn’t Merryman’s first controversy. In May 2022, U.S. Marshals arrested him for allegedly failing to pay his employees of his landscaping company thousands of dollars. In October of 2021, the Virginia Attorney General’s Office sued Merryman for systemic housing discrimination, alleging “horrific treatment” of tenants. 

Online court records show the lawsuit against Merryman will go to trial in the Newport News Circuit Court on Feb. 26.

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