US 'landlords from hell' plead guilty to felonies

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Prosecutors called them the "landlords from hell".

A US couple accused of going to extreme lengths to drive tenants from a San Francisco apartment building - including cutting holes in one tenant's floor with a power saw while he was still inside - have pleaded guilty to several felonies.

Nicole Macy, 37, and Kip Macy, 38 - who fled to Italy after being indicted - threatened to shoot tenants, changed locks, cleared apartments of belongings and reported tenants as trespassers in their own apartments, prosecutors said on Wednesday. They said it was all to drive renters out of their building in the increasingly pricey South of Market neighbourhood.

Rents have soared in recent years, but city restrictions keep them in check for existing tenants.

The Macys each pleaded guilty on Tuesday to two felony counts of residential burglary, one felony count of stalking and one felony count of attempted grand theft.

The crimes occurred between 2005 and 2007. The Macys fled to Italy after their 2009 grand jury indictment. They reached a plea deal after they were extradited and will each be sentenced to four years and four months in prison.

Sentencing is scheduled for August.

The couple also threatened to have tenants deported, the district attorney's office said.

The Macys attorney, Lisa Dewberry, did not immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment.