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FreeBSD developer Kip Macy charged with tenant terror

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Prominent FreeBSD developer Kip Macy has been charged with waging a campaign of terror against people renting apartments in a six-unit building he owns. He stands accused of cutting out floor supports to retaliate against a tenant who went to court to keep from being evicted.

According to San Francisco prosecutors, Macy also shut off the tenant's electricity, disconnected his phone and had workers saw a hole in his living room floor. Other tenants claim the programmer-turned-landlord and his wife broke into their apartment and stole $2,000 worth of belongings. The couple was arrested Tuesday and charged with multiple felonies, including burglary, stalking, grand theft and shutting off service.

"This is a very bizarre case," Deputy City Attorney Jennifer Choi told the The San Francisco Chronicle. "It seemed like these landlords went from zero to extremely angry very quickly."

Macy has been a prolific contributor to the FreeBSD project. According to news articles and postings scattered all over the place, he helped kick-start the porting of FreeBSD to Sun's UltraSparc, did early work on the Xen/FreeBSD port and mentoring younger programmers. As recently as last month, he was spotted posting this query in a FreeBSD forum.

He's not the only open-source programmer to face highly public charges. Hans Reiser, creator of the eponymous reiserfs file system for Linux, is on trial for the murder of his wife. A jury is deliberating and could rule at any moment.

Macy and his wife Nicole have addresses in Sausalito, California, and Incline Village, Nevada. The couple posted bail after their arrest.

It's unclear what would posses a person to damage his own building by removing joists or cutting a hole in the floor. Paul Wartelle - whose firm, Wartelle, Weaver & Schreiber, represents one of Macy's tenants - told us it was part of a plan designed to make life unpleasant for tenants who were protected by San Francisco's rent control laws.

"The purpose is essentially to get them out, to get the rent increased," Wartelle said. "It's essentially a profit motive."

Macy didn't respond to an email requesting comment for this story. ®

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