HRE Worker, Tenant Drop Charges

Ware St. Tenant Criticizes Use of Chemical

Attorneys for Harvard Real Estate (HRE) and a Ware St. tenant yesterday agreed in a pre-trial hearing to drop charges stemming from a March 3 incident at the University owned apartment building.

Robert Epstein, a tenant at the 9-13a Ware St. building, had filed a complaint against HRE worker Daniel J. Giatrelis, alleging that Giatrelis had threatened him after Epstein called attention to what he perceived as a lack of safety precautions used during the replacement of windows in the building.

Giatrelis subsequently filed his own criminal complaint charging Epstein with assault and battery during the same incident.

"It's a minor victory for me," Epstein said yesterday of the settlement, explaining that Harvard Real Estate officials had tried and failed to solicit concessions from him as part of the agreement to drop charges.

"They wanted me to promise all kinds of things, but I wouldn't promise anything," Epstein said, adding that he had refused to promise no civil legal action against HRE and had declined to make a public apology to HRE.

"An apology would have been an admission of guilt," Epstein said.

But Daniel M. Polvere an attorney for Harvard who represented Giatrelis at HRE's expense, said that both Giatrelis and Epstein had agreed not to press civil action against each other and to decline public comment on the settlement.

Polvere first refused to discuss details of the settlement but agreed to comment after being informed of Epstein's statements.

"We think that justice was done today," Polvere said, adding that the court action was primarily between Giatrelis and Epstein and "not a matter where HRE would call the shots."

Epstein, however, said "my real gripe is not with the workmen, but with HRE."

At the pre-trial hearing yesterday, Epstein said that as a recipient of two degrees from Harvard, he is embarassed that the University is connected with Harvard Real Estate because of its treatment of tenants.

In a related matter, another Ware St. tenant charged yesterday that HRE may have created a health hazard because of chemicals used in the installation of energy-saving windows in the apartment building.

"The night that they installed the windows. I started to feel sick with a sore throat and had trouble breathing," said Carol N. Weiss.

Weiss said that after a long series of calls to city and state health agencies, she succeeded in persuading the University Health Service officials to test the air in the building.

A UHS official said yesterday that although the total series of tests has not been fully analyzed, initial test results show no harmful levels of chemicals.

"There is in our opinion from everyone we've talked with no reason to stop using" the window sealant that Weiss has criticized, said David A. Zewinski '76, HRE property manager.

Zewinski added that 60 Ware St. apartments had been equipped with new windows before HRE received its first complaint about the installation. He added that HRE would comply with the wishes of tenants who ask in the future that the sealant not be used while they are in the building.

Zewinski said that although the air tests have not been conclusively analyzed, "it is my sound opinion that nothing will be determined with any health hazard whatsoever."

A group of tenants in the Ware St. building has been complaining about the window installation for more than two months, charging in part that the renovations will unfairly increase rents in the building.