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Media Meltdowns

NBC Politics Reporter Gloats About Evicting Tenant: “I Hope He Enjoys The Sex In Prison”

2:53 PM EST on January 25, 2023

Mark Caputo
Screenshot: MSNBC

Marc A. Caputo is a senior national political reporter at NBC News who lives in Miami and covers Florida politics, campaigns, and issues of national political concern. Caputo, who wrote for Politico for seven years before making the jump to NBC, is a reliably standard chronicler of American politics. He is also, according to his own Instagram account, a landlord who opted to share, in disturbing detail, how he went about evicting a tenant living in a house he owns in Key West. 

In a series of Instagram stories posted on Tuesday, Caputo chronicled the eviction through screen-recorded text-message conversations between himself, the tenant, and Caputo’s designated property manager, a person called Red. Caputo also posted a photo of an eviction notice, which identified the tenant by name. One conversation that Caputo posted shows the tenant begging for more time to move out, which Caputo denied; another shows Caputo telling Red that he hopes the tenant “enjoys the sex in prison,” and talking about how the tenant will “have a gun to his head in almost a literal sense because law enforcement will be there.” 

Caputo referred to the tenant, who Defector is not naming and who Defector was not able to reach for comment, as a “junkie” and posted a video of a car filled with household tools and cleaning supplies with the caption: “junkie tenant damage assessment gear.” In another post, Caputo shared a screenshot of a text with a television producer who was asking for his availability for a live TV hit; Caputo captioned the screenshot: “...of course TV wants me on in the 2 pm hour. A live eviction wd make for good TV.” Caputo then posted videos of himself and others at the property following the eviction. One man on video explained how he had to break down the door with an axe so he could enter the building. Caputo documented the damage to the house, which included a busted pipe and scratches around the lock of one door in the house.

NBC News declined to comment. Caputo sent a statement to Defector that read, in part: "I’ve rented places out to people for more than a decade, and out of all the people I’ve had as tenants, this was the most heartbreaking situation because this tenant had been moved in unexpectedly by a prior tenant who stole his alleged rent money and absconded town—leaving me to ultimately pay the bill." Caputo's full statement, which includes his accounting of the situation and an acknowledgment that his actions were "born out of deep frustration that I transmuted into mockery of a terrible situation," is below.

According to public court documents obtained by Defector, Caputo filed a complaint for a “residential eviction” at the Key West property on Jan. 4. The lawsuit said Caputo’s tenant had been living on a month-to-month lease at the home. The filing said:

By written notice of December 15, 2022, Plaintiff served upon Defendant Fifteen (15) Day Notice of Termination of Month-to-Month Tenancy. Copy of the Three-Day Notice is attached hereto, made part hereof and marked as Exhibit “A”. Defendant has failed to vacate in accordance with the Notice served on December 15, 2022 and wrongfully refuses to surrender possession or to make the rental payments.

Just 16 days later, a judge ordered the sheriff’s office to evict the tenant. 

In the text conversations he posted to his Instagram account Tuesday, Caputo narrated the story of the eviction through his texts with the tenant. Caputo tells him to leave; the tenant begs for more time. 

Caputo: Heads up: Between 3 and 5 pm today, a new 24-hour eviction notice will be on your door. You will need to have all your stuff out of there by that time Tuesday. Oh. Actually the notice just got posted. It’s 2:30 pm. After 2:30 pm, you will not have access to the unit or the property. The locks will be changed.

Tenant: Please give me tomorrow. I’ll be out.

Caputo: Yes, 2:30 pm tomorrow.

Caputo: “Heads up: Between 3 and 5 pm today, a new 24-hour eviction notice will be on your door. You will need to have all your stuff out of there by that time Tuesday. Oh. Actually the notice just got posted. It’s 2:30 pm. After 2:30 pm, you will not have access to the unit or the property. The locks will be changed."Tenant: “Please give me tomorrow. I’ll be out.” Caputo: “Yes, 2:30 pm tomorrow.”crazy. First day off I’ve had in a while my guys that helping me don’t get off work till 4:30 ish.”Caputo: “Too bad. It’s time."Caputo: “You were supposed to move out Dec. 31. I gave you until Jan 15 and offered to give you $2000 if you would do it then. You missed that deadline, just like every other deadline to do anything on time–including paying rent or returning my calls and texts. You then claimed you would move out last Wednesday, the 18th. Then Thursday the 19th. Then today the 24th. Times up. You have to leave.”Tenant: “I will. Before today is over.” Caputo: “You will leave at 2:30 pm” Tenant: “There’s no way. By morning no problem. I mean today. Please don’t do this."Caputo: “Actually there is a way. And that way is for you to finally believe me – because I tell the truth. And stop listening to yourself – because you’re self-deceived by your lies."Tenant: “Just waiting on my guys. Please??Caputo: “No”Tenant: “Please” Caputo: “Get moving. No. It’s too late. The Deputy is coming at 2:30. You will be forcibly removed and trespassed. I’m sorry it has come to this. But you have no one to blame but yourself. Don’t worry about that right now. Worry about getting out. Because you have less than an hour.”

At 1:23 p.m. the next day, about an hour before the tenant was set to be evicted, the conversation continued:

Tenant: I can’t move in till tomorrow morning. I’ll be out today stop being crazy. First day off I’ve had in a while my guys that helping me don’t get off work till 4:30 ish.

Caputo: Too bad. It’s time.

Caputo: You were supposed to move out Dec. 31. I gave you until Jan 15 and offered to give you $2000 if you would do it then. You missed that deadline, just like every other deadline to do anything on time–including paying rent or returning my calls and texts. You then claimed you would move out last Wednesday, the 18th. Then Thursday the 19th. Then today the 24th. Time's up. You have to leave.

Tenant: I will. Before today is over.

Caputo: You will leave at 2:30 pm

Tenant: There’s no way. By morning no problem. I mean today. Please don’t do this.

Caputo: Actually there is a way. And that way is for you to finally believe me – because I tell the truth. And stop listening to yourself – because you’re self-deceived by your lies.

Tenant: Just waiting on my guys. Please??

Caputo: No

Tenant: Please 

Caputo: Get moving. No. It’s too late. The Deputy is coming at 2:30. You will be forcibly removed and trespassed. I’m sorry it has come to this. But you have no one to blame but yourself. Don’t worry about that right now. Worry about getting out. Because you have less than an hour.

Caputo also posted a text conversation between himself and Red to Instagram. This conversation suggests that Red felt some measure of guilt about throwing a person out of their home. In the back-and-forth, Red speculated about the tenant’s mental state. He described the tenant’s home as having “a gun-in-my-mouth vibe.”

“The guy doesn’t have anywhere to go and nobody has any love for him anymore and I won’t be surprised when he gets taken out in handcuffs and all his s*** is still in there,” Red texted before adding that he was heading over to the property soon. 

Caputo responded, “He will have a gun to his head in almost a literal sense because law enforcement will be there. As Mao Tse Tung said: all political power comes from the barrel of a gun.”

Red then speculated about the likelihood that the tenant will go back to jail and mentions his criminal history. (Defector confirmed through public records that the tenant was previously arrested multiple times on non-violent charges, including possession, larceny, and property damage. His record also includes one arrest for misdemeanor battery.)

Caputo responded: “I hope he enjoys the sex in prison. Fuck him.” 

To which Red replied: “I told him flat out I took no pleasure in doing any of this and that he’ll get what’s coming to him as far as the law is concerned but between me and you I never enjoy watching a man fall especially at our age because of some childish arrested development. I guess red does have a little empathy. Just a little don’t tell anybody and he didn’t have any of that for us so f*** him.”

There's an obvious question raised here, given the dehumanizing terms he used to talk about his tenant, about Caputo's ability to report fully on issues of national concern like homelessness, housing policy, or mass incarceration. But these interactions also gesture towards a bigger story about the ways people, tenants and small landlords alike, are being squeezed by a housing system built only for profit. With the end of the federal eviction moratorium, homelessness has skyrocketed. Instead of investing in permanently affordable public housing, social services, and public programs that actually help people find stability, cities and states are passing more and more laws designed to criminalize people experiencing homelessness, which are both costly and ineffective. The system is fundamentally inhumane, but those living within it need not surrender their own humanity so willingly.

Caputo's full statement:

I’ve rented places out to people for more than a decade, and out of all the people I’ve had as tenants, this was the most heartbreaking situation because this tenant had been moved in unexpectedly by a prior tenant who stole his alleged rent money and absconded town —leaving me to ultimately pay the bill.

He proceeded to ruin the property by breaking a window, disabling a lock, ruining a door after apparently locking someone in, breaking a car-port pillar after drunkenly driving into it and ruining the pipes by flushing cigarette butts and who knows what down the sink drain and toilet.

Ultimately, after months of not paying rent on time and lying about it and disturbing another tenant, I asked him to move out following his arrest for domestic violence. I even offered him cash to do so and offered to help him move, but he refused and kept lying. So I eventually relied on law enforcement to effectuate an eviction.

I’ve had those details on my private Instagram account as well, but I understand those had not been shared with you, and I also understand how the narrow context of what you saw doesn’t reflect the full story, which was born out of deep frustration that I transmuted into mockery of a terrible situation.

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