The vacant property that was the scene of Baltimore’s first fire death of the year has been repeatedly cited for violations and is owned by investors connected to ABC Capital, a Philadelphia company beset by claims it ripped off investors.

The Baltimore Sun reported Thursday that Brittany Wolf, 32, died of smoke inhalation Jan. 17 after a fire broke out at a vacant home in the 400 block of N. East Ave., a property the story noted was owned by investors who, paperwork shows, were working through ABC Capital and its owner’s current venture, IPP USA.

ABC Capital owes $4 million in judgments and is facing scores of pending lawsuits related to investors, mostly in foreign countries, who say they were promised a hands-off investment in which ABC would acquire properties for them, renovate them and rent them out. The suits say the company did not perform the promised renovations and the homes, all in distressed areas of the city, sit in disrepair. The Pennsylvania Attorney General has been conducting a review of its business practices for the past year.

Records show the N. East Avenue property was acquired in June 2020 for $24,000 by Alva 74 Investment LLC, a Florida limited liability corporation. When Alva 74 Investment sold the property in January 2021, the company’s “duly authorized agent” was listed as Peter Brooks, an ABC Capital employee.

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The company that acquired the property in 2021, for $23,000, is listed as Dionne LLC, which uses a mailing address of 1714 Memphis St. in Philadelphia, which ABC Capital used as its address when it obtained PPP loans and which it has used for other LLCs that it creates for its foreign investors. Dionne LLC is incorporated in Maryland and lists IPP USA LLC as its resident agent.

Records show Alva 74 Investment acquired 11 properties in Baltimore since 2020, and sold all but one — a property listed as vacant at 3613 4th St. Some were flipped on the same day they were acquired.

In 500 property transactions documented by The Baltimore Banner, ABC Capital first acquired properties and then flipped them to investors in a separate transaction. But in hundreds more, like the North East Avenue transaction, ABC did not act as such a middleman, making it harder to quantify how many homes the company arranged for investors.

The Sun reported that the N. East Avenue property was first recognized as vacant in 2019, and the city has cleaned it eight times and boarded it four times. Alva 74 Investment was cited for failing to register a vacant building and for failing to abate issues with the property.

City officials issued Dionne LLC a citation in December 2022 for failing to register a vacant building, a citation which is still open.

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Wolf’s relatives told The Sun that she had been staying at the home with a romantic interest for the past several months and was struggling with addiction. They begged her to come home.

“This is just, it’s like a nightmare for us,” Nicole Wolf said. “I can’t believe we lost her in this way.”

justin.fenton@thebaltimorebanner.com

Justin Fenton is an investigative reporter for the Baltimore Banner. He previously spent 17 years at the Baltimore Sun, covering the criminal justice system. His book, "We Own This City: A True Story of Crime, Cops and Corruption," was released by Random House in 2021 and became an HBO miniseries.

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