Home Blog Why the handyman who turned the tables on squatters confronted a celebrity chef accused of living rent-free – Fox News

Why the handyman who turned the tables on squatters confronted a celebrity chef accused of living rent-free – Fox News

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A handyman said he successfully helped get Iron Chef winner and former judge Adam Fleischman to leave a woman’s Hollywood home. Fleischman denies he was squatting.
A handyman with experience removing squatters said he helped an older woman reclaim her Hollywood home from Iron Chef winner and former judge Adam Fleischman, who she claimed was living there rent-free.
After the woman, Claudia, contacted him, Flash Shelton went to the house and confronted Fleischman for living in the home since May without ever paying rent. The handyman filmed the situation and posted it to his YouTube channel, hoping media attention would encourage the Umami Burger founder to move out. 
Fleischman confirmed to Fox News that he left the house on Oct. 2 and no longer lives in the home.
“I asked him if he felt that he owed her any money and if he realizes that he has basically broken this woman,” Shelton told Fox News Digital, adding that Claudia has said she’s facing bankruptcy. “He just says that it’s not his fault.”
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Fleischman said he had intended “to pay rent and to be a normal tenant,” but hasn’t because he wasn’t given a lease when he moved in. He said he did not consider himself a squatter. 
“I haven’t paid rent because intentionally she wouldn’t provide keys or an agreement, etc. etc.,” he told Fox News Digital in a text. “Landlords or those renting a room have responsibilities.”
“She did not ask for rent for the first 2-3 months,” Fleischman added. “I figured she had some credit or something.”
Claudia told Fox News Digital she believes “the system is broken” since she couldn’t remove Fleischman without going to court.
“We kept telling him for months to leave, but he refuses, and the police say it’s illegal to make him leave or to lock him out,” she said.
“He has paid no deposit, no rent, has no lease or any keys,” Claudia, who says she’s rented the home for 29 years, added before he moved out.
Umami Burger founder Adam Fleischman was accused by an older woman of squatting in her Hollywood home. He denies the accusation. (Kirk McKoy/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Fleischman left after Shelton discovered the chef would have to take him to civil court if he were to lock the door, the handyman told Fox News Digital. 
Claudia said she has a medical condition that’s exacerbated by stress. Fox News Digital agreed to withhold her last name since she fears media attention will harm her health.
Claudia said she posted an ad on Craigslist in the spring — with permission of the homeowner — to help find people to pay the rent. After Fleischman responded to the ad, the two made an agreement to host dinner parties and charge per plate at the home with a pleasant view to generate income.
The homeowner did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
“He said a partnership with us would pay all for the entire home,” Claudia said.  
“I felt if he’s had that much success, maybe he knows how to be successful,” she said in one of Shelton’s videos. 
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Claudia did not provide Fleischman with a lease. Another tenant, Tiffany Workman, said she wasn’t provided with one either because Claudia told her “she goes off of her heart.”
Shelton says Fleischman does not feel at fault for the situation. (Courtesy of Flash Shelton)
Claudia said Fleischman did not pay her after the first event, which she said took place around April, and afterward realized he used her credit card to buy supplies for it. When she confronted him for money the night of the event, he told her she would have to wait for the next event, according to Claudia.
Fleischman denied using her card. Claudia provided Fox News Digital with a bank statement showing a disputed charge on her account with a note saying it’s under investigation. 
“He did not pay me, and he used my credit card and forged my signature to buy the food for the event, and I knew I was in trouble,” Claudia said. “He was just a con man.”
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Fleischman told Fox News Digital that Claudia’s accusation was “made-up stuff from a crazy person.” He also said they got along well for the first three months.
Although he admits to not paying rent, Fleischman told Fox News Digital he contributed to utilities and “house expenses.”
Flash Shelton said he helped Claudia for free in getting Adam Fleischman to leave. (Fox News Digital)
Claudia said she struggled to find other tenants because of Fleischman.
“Because he’s there, I pay triple rent because no one else will rent if he’s in my house,” Claudia, 62, said before Fleischman left. “Being elderly, recently losing my spouse and having a brain injury from an auto accident is overwhelming enough, and now this nightmare that I have to face alone.” 
When asked why he decided to stay in the home after Claudia asked him to leave, Fleischman said: “How is four months so long? Baffled.” 
“It’s not like I’ve been here for years,” he added.
Shelton, who once successfully removed squatters from his mother’s home, said he helped Claudia free of charge.
“I asked [Fleischman] if he had any guilt whatsoever, felt any obligation to her and he said, ‘Absolutely not,’” Shelton told Fox News Digital. “I’m just trying to understand where his head is and how he could live like this.”
The celebrity chef pointed out that he wasn’t given a lease or keys.
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“Well, this isn’t really a full tenancy,” Fleischman said. “Therefore, I’m not going to pay full rent for something where I’m not given a real tenancy.”
In his video, Shelton included footage from cameras placed around the house that show Fleischman telling two men “after she dies, I’ll give you guys first shot at the rooms.”
Another video Shelton posted shows Los Angeles Police Department officers giving the handyman permission to place cameras around the house so long as he doesn’t film in the bedroom Fleischman occupies. LAPD also told Claudia she couldn’t prevent him from getting access and that they couldn’t help her because the situation is a civil matter.
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“The city of Los Angeles, with the tenancy laws, how they operate, it could take months,” one police officer told Claudia in the video. “I know that’s not what you want to hear, but it’s the reality of it.”
“As far as the crew, if they can try their methods and see if that works,” the officer said in reference to Shelton, trailing off.
An LAPD spokesperson told Fox News Digital that the situation is a “civil matter,” but didn’t comment further.
Fleischman has not been accused of or charged with any criminal conduct.
Police initially told Claudia and Shelton that they could not lock out Fleischman from the home. (Courtesy of Flash Shelton)
Shelton said he’s raising money on GoFundMe to pay for costs to help others remove squatters.
“The GoFundMe is for her and others but also goes to funding efforts to change squatter laws and help everyone,” Shelton said.
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The hospitality group SBE took a majority stake in Umami Burger in 2016, according to Nation’s Restaurant News. Fleischman opened a new restaurant, Slow Burn, in 2022, but it closed its doors without explanation weeks after opening, according to Eater Los Angeles.
“It’s a shame for that to happen to anyone, and I don’t wish that on anyone,” Shelton said. “It doesn’t give you a reason to tear somebody else down.”
Ramiro Vargas contributed to the accompanying video.
Kassy Dillon is a reporter for Digital Originals. You can reach her at kassy.dillon@fox.com and follow her on Twitter at @kassydillon.
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This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2023 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. Quotes displayed in real-time or delayed by at least 15 minutes. Market data provided by Factset. Powered and implemented by FactSet Digital Solutions. Legal Statement. Mutual Fund and ETF data provided by Refinitiv Lipper.

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